how to start a book club

I have always been shy. painfully shy in my adolescent years, in fact. as the years passed, the combination of a growing urge to want to be heard and not wanting to hide in the shadows of others encouraged me to be more social. I still am fairly reserved especially around a large group of people, and, to many, this fact may seem more like a revelation. some have expressed doubt that I actually am shy. this may be because I am an extroverted introvert. not quite sure what that means? read here.

as a child, I sought solace in reading. my first distinct memory of reading is when I was around 4 years old. I recall being amazed at how words could bring pictures to life. over the years, I stuck my nose in a book whenever I could. everyone knew me as a bookworm. it got to the point where I kept receiving books as gifts, and though that was appreciated I still wanted toys and dolls like any other child.

still, not much could bring me as much joy as a book could. some of my favorite series growing up were the berenstain bears, the babysitters club, ramona quimby, and sweet valley high. and my all-time favorite book is j.d. salinger’s the catcher in the rye. for those who know me, I did not forget harry potter. that series is in its own category of greatness. I used to just pick up a book from the series and start reading. after the 14th go, I lost count of how many times I had read harry potter and the sorcerer’s stone.

in recent years it has been difficult to find the time and energy to read what with raising two children and this little thing called life. however, the desire to read more books never left my mind. what if i was in a book club? better yet, what if i started one? I had discussed this idea with another mom friend who had been itching to start one as well, so I finally created a group on facebook and invited friends who I thought would be interested.

I began this book club back in january and so far we have read five books. we just started our sixth this week.

when you create a book club, you want to think about these factors:

  1. group setting: where will discussion take place? in person? online?
  2. size of group and its members: do you want a large group or an intimate one? who’s invited? is it an open/closed group?
  3. general rules and guidelines: you want to have some sort of set rules so members know what to expect and how to participate.

here is what I decided for the three factors:

  1. I chose to have my book club as a closed facebook group. I invited friends that I thought would be interested, and I also encouraged them to invite other friends. we decided to have weekly discussions on the group page (mondays at 8:30pm) after having read a set number of pages. after a book is completed, our group meets up in person for a final discussion which involves much laughter, gossiping, eating & imbibing.
  2. I didn’t want the group to be too big but I did invite a large number of people because I wasn’t sure who would be interested and committed enough to participate. we have about 15 people that are in the group but only around 8 that are active. we all agreed that this small group is more to our liking because keeping up with everyone’s responses in the facebook group chat is challenging! the notifications keep going off and we have to find the next comment.
  3. who’s the moderator? there needs to be someone to keep track of the time and the comments. our group poses two questions weekly that pertains to the reading. we spend a half hour on each question (8:30-9pm for question 1 and 9-9:30pm for question 2). if members still want to discuss questions further, we do so after discussion for question 2 is completed. but after 9:30pm, members are free to leave the discussion. in our group, usually the person who volunteers the questions for that week is the moderator for the discussion.

our group is a democracy: we decide everything together such as choosing the next book (members suggest titles and we vote via a poll), how many pages to read for the next “assignment”, changing the date/time of a discussion if necessary, and having members offer to post questions for the reading. the only things I did on my own as an admin & main moderator was to come up with a group name (reading between the wines) and the general rules and guidelines.

as for the rules and guidelines, how strict/lax are you about participation? most of us do participate in every book, but sometimes our schedules don’t permit us enough time to be able to read a set number of pages every week and participate in a group discussion. therefore, we have members joining in the discussion when they can (up-to-date on their reading, of course) or just waiting to join in for the next book.

as for choosing the discussion questions, some books have questions in the back of the book. however, we did find that these questions tend to spoil the book since they’re meant to be used after the book is completed. most of the time, we come up with questions on our own (after one of us has read most or all of the set number of pages) or we use our go-to which is “what is your favorite passage or quote?” personally, I like questions that require the reader to go back into the book to reflect a little more deeply on the reading.

some other general rules to consider are use of offensive and foul language and respecting others’ opinions – these are more of an issue the bigger and more public your group is though.

we also thought it would be to fun to celebrate reading a book by having a meet-up along with food and drinks. most of the time, we meet at a designated restaurant to catch up on each other’s lives, and, of course, to discuss how the book ended. our last meet-up was at my friend, katie’s house since she recently had a baby girl (natalie, age 1.5 months), but usually we try to choose a central location since some of us live an hour away from one another. if we do hold it at someone’s house, it turns into a potluck.

another suggestion for the meet-up is to, at least, have one person bring a copy of the book for group photos. I love to document (clearly) so a group photo is a must! a meet-up is also wonderful to be able to meet other members, some of whom you may only know through the online discussions.

at this point, some of you may be a bit overwhelmed! it does seem like a lot of work initially but once you decide how the group will be managed and run, i promise it will be fun (unintentional rhyming there). and that’s the important part: have fun. you obviously wanted to create, or be part of, a book club because of your love for reading. so, don’t forget the main objective in being a part of one. there really isn’t a point in being a part of something if it’s not enjoyable.

I hope my tips have been helpful in motivating you to start a book club! feel free to share any of your useful advice and even book suggestions!

happy reading!

 

photos from our most recent meet-up (7/29/18)

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1. we forgot the book, and 2. missing courtney and lori

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lemon cake balls made by karen

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taking turns playing with genevieve

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new mama & baby natalie

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me holding our current book

here are the books we’ve read so far:

1. little fires everywhere – celeste ng

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2. the secrets she keeps – michael robotham

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3. tell me i’m wrong – adam croft

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4. landline – rainbow rowell

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5. the alice network – kate quinn

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6. the last mrs. parrish – liv constantine* current book

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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.

to blog or not to blog

it’s been nearly three months since my last blog post. sheer laziness was the big reason for not blogging, but I also seriously contemplated forgoing it altogether. I wasn’t, and I guess I still am, unsure if it’s really “taking me anywhere.” I’m just not certain if the benefits outweigh the time spent curating the photos and thinking of what to say. by benefits, I mean the sole purpose in which I had started this blog: to share my life with, first, one child, and, now raising two little ones.

I had had feedback from friends and strangers alike that my posts have helped them personally which is very rewarding, and wonderful to hear. that, for a while, gave me the momentum to keep my blog going; but it is a very time-consuming task especially with a very s l o w MacBook. (mine is from 2009!) it took ages for me to upload photos and write one entry. (now that Dennis has a brand-new MacBook Pro – thanks to our family and friends for the generous gift – technology won’t be the piece that prevents me from blogging.)

recently, I rebranded my instagram page – I deleted (gasp) most of my photos. (I ended up archiving most of them, but I also made chatbooks using all of my IG photos: grand total $160!) I want my page to have more of a cohesive look and also appeal to a particular niche. although the photos I have uploaded since the purge are similar in content to what I’ve had before, I’ve been focusing on the layout and look of my page more than ever. I’m trying to have similar colors via filters and also focusing more on myself as well. before kids, my posts were generally ootd and lifestyle which I really enjoyed. of course, I will post pictures of my kiddos now and then but, for the most part, the focus will be on mom style and lifestyle.

since I rebranded, I attended a first birthday party and went on a double date to the movies. this past Saturday, penny and I went to lorelai’s first birthday. the weather was beautiful on Saturday – warm enough to remove my blazer and it was *only* 11:30AM. (warm and sunny weather hasn’t been easy to come by in New England this year.) penny was fascinated by the Canadian geese that were swimming in the pond so I took a few photos of her as she checked them out.

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while at the party, penny really enjoyed playing with a homemade dollhouse: she spent the majority of our stay playing with it.

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some of the girls eating pizza together

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yummy homemade cake

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birthday girl checking out the cake!

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big sister & little sister

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excited to eat a macaron

for the occasion, I decided to wear an oatmeal blazer from anthropologie with skinny jeans and ultra-feminine flats that I had purchased in Hong Kong. I’m not sure if I was being foolish or brave wearing light colors to a toddler’s birthday, but I left the party, unscathed!

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I love the polka dot liner and the elbow patches on the blazer! details are everything

 

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close-up of the lace top from forever 21

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I stuck with the color scheme by pairing the outfit with light tan flats from Hong Kong 

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that same day, Dennis and I went to go to see a quiet place with our friends. I did a wardrobe change: from light to dark (day to night). I wouldn’t have carried such a big purse with me but I thought we were going to sneak in Wendy’s (!) until Dennis told me that it was too loud to eat during that particular movie because of its, well, quietness. we ended up eating McDonald’s in the car, haha! (all four of us thoroughly enjoyed the movie – go check it out!)

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“darker” neutral colors for a night out.

the black shawl from Nordstrom doubled as a blanket while watching the movie since I get cold easily. suede grey wedges were a comfortable choice as well.

I hope you enjoyed my post, and continue to follow me as I revamp my content.

no sleep till.. never?

goodness, it’s been a ghastly week at the so household. penny woke up with a fever last thursday morning and has been sick ever since with progressively worse symptoms. she’s finally much better today, and as my mil and i marveled over penny recognizing and reciting numbers 0-9 on her duplo blocks it was hard to believe this little smartypants had been vomiting almost all day on saturday.

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encouraging her to drink water to get a urine sample

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a little wary of the other adults

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little miss sunshine

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penny didn’t have much of an appetite since she wasn’t feeling well but was in good spirits most of the time during her illness. on friday, i suspected she had a uti because she suddenly got out of her car and started crying as she crossed her legs. even though i took her to the doctor’s office that afternoon we couldn’t determine exactly what she had because she wouldn’t cooperate. she screamed and writhed when getting her ears and heart checked. (at least they ruled out an ear infection.) we were unsuccessful in trying to attach a urine bag to penny to collect a urine sample so we tried by placing cotton balls in her diaper and having her drink water but her diaper was still dry after 25 minutes.

i brought two urine bags and a cup home in an attempt to collect a sample but was unsuccessful yet again. both bags became detached and were crumpled up in the diaper. she didn’t have pain going to the bathroom and her urine didn’t have a funky odor so it most likely was not a uti. the pediatrician seemed to think penny just had contracted a virus anyway.

things took a turn for the worse on saturday. we walked in penny’s room that morning and discovered she had vomited sometime during the night. it had dried on the crib sheet and there were chunks – pardon me while i gag – of partially digested food in her hair! she didn’t even cry but just looked up at us as if she was going to get in trouble. i don’t know how she slept in all of that, and that really makes me sad for her! dennis thinks penny vomited before she even fell asleep friday night. i had gone out to meet up with friends for a paint night / baby sprinkle that night and dennis had put both kids to bed with help from his mom. he noted that penny sat up in her crib for a while before finally going to bed. she must have vomited and had not known what to do.

for her nap on saturday, penny took an awfully long time to fall asleep. when she finally did, she only slept for an hour and sat up again in her crib. when i went in her room to check on her, i found that she had vomited again! as for bedtime that night… that was a downright fiasco. she had a developed a cough that day, and that was not only keeping her up but it caused her to vomit three more times that night. again, we never would have known because penny never cried or called out for us. we watched the monitor like a hawk to observe her behavior. at one point when she sat up in her crib, she made a brushing motion with her hand. (she was probably trying to wipe the vomit off her sleep sack.)

the washer and dryer were basically going on all night as we washed her pajamas, crib sheets, stuffed animals, and blankets. the first time it happened, we washed her off, changed her, and put her to bed before she vomited again. the second time it occurred there weren’t any crib sheets left so we had to keep her up while we waited for one to dry. while we were keeping her distracted, she vomited on the kitchen floor! by this time, she knew something was wrong and was getting a little scared. when we finally put her to bed she started crying because she probably thought she was going to vomit again. i think she was associating her crib with these horrible episodes.

i laid out a comforter on the floor of penny’s bedroom and lied down on it while coaxing penny to join me. she wasn’t convinced and kept trying to have me read books to her. i finally pretended to sleep but she kept her distance though she did steal glances in my direction. then, i left the room saying “bye, good night” and came back to see that she had finally lied down. i joined her and gave her her blankie. she did not want the room to be in total darkness so i left her lamp on to provide a dim light. i also soothed her by placing my hand on her stomach. she was asleep within minutes and i quietly stole out of the room. we waited about a half hour before dennis went in to place her gently in her crib. at least ezra slept through it all! his last feeding had been around 8pm and he didn’t wake again to eat until 2am.

penny seems to be near 100% today. finally. she is no longer coughing and her appetite has somewhat returned. she also slept for almost 12 hours last night which shows that rest is essential to recovering. since she was feeling much better today, i was able to take her to the library in coventry for story time – perfect timing since the program started up again today. we were able to see karen and parker there and catch up with them as well.

as for the other child, ezra has had a good routine going once i upped his milk intake. he never seemed to be fully satisfied after every feeding and would sometimes cry for a little bit. after researching online, i found that bottle-fed babies are drinking about 5~6 ounces per feeding at his age (he is 8 weeks today.) i had been giving ezra 3 oz. every 3 hours! no wonder he wasn’t satiated. i tried giving him 5oz and he drank it all without spitting up or being uncomfortable. after some experimenting, i found that ezra still wants to drink every 3 hours which caused his milk intake to shoot up during the day. i was worried i was overfeeding him but getting his calories in during the day helped him sleep longer at night – the ultimate goal!

we have been putting ezra down for the night around 8:30pm shortly after penny goes to bed. then he will have a good stretch before he needs to eat again, about 5-6 hours! i was feeling rather pleased with this improved schedule until last night. ezra would not fall asleep for longer than a half hour before he started crying. dennis and i took turns going in there to soothe him, rock him, change his diaper, and reswaddle. every time he fell asleep, he would wake up crying a short while later. we attributed his discomfort to gas but none of the measures we were using were working. finally at 5am, i decided to let him sleep on his belly to push the gas out… and that was it. he passed out and slept for two hours before waking up for his morning feed, and then taking a 2.5 hour nap.

anyway, both kiddos seem to be doing much better today – hallelujah! this depressing weather has been crippling our mood as well but it seems to be slowly turning around tomorrow. it’s hard to believe today’s high is in the 50s while next tuesday’s will be 90! we have another busy weekend ahead of us. saturday is a day trip to massachusetts to attend my cousin’s high school graduation party. (to be accurate, it’s my first cousin once removed – my first cousin’s son.) sunday is ethan’s first birthday so we will attend that as a family as well.

with everything going on, i haven’t been able to write a post on memorial day weekend. hoping i will soon. goal: before the month is over. 😦

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ez loves bath time just like penny

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smiling a lot more these days

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congrats on your new position!

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paint night for bomie and baby!

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watching high school musical 2

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first time using the activity mat

count your blessings

good news: baby boy is doing well. at my ultrasound on tuesday, i found out that he’s in the 48th percentile for height and weighs about 6lb. 8oz. so far so nothing to worry about! he’s well on his way to being a 7lb. baby if he stays put for a few more weeks. i was also able to bring home pictures of him from the ultrasound – his fist is visible over his nose and he was moving a lot during the check-up too.

i’m already almost at 38 weeks! nowadays, i wake up every morning wondering if today is “the day.” i’ve actually been feeling more energized the last couple of days – i’m not sure if it’s my nesting instinct kicking in but i’ve been wired even on less sleep. two days ago, i stayed up until nearly 4am (!) to work on penny’s birthday invitations. dennis had recently gifted me the cricut explore air 2 and i’ve been fiddling around with it to create birthday invites for penny’s upcoming 2nd birthday party. it really shouldn’t have taken that long to create and cut the images, but i have an old macbook (2009) and my software is too old to support the cricut design space program. i tried downloading the newest osx but it wouldn’t work. i’ve been designing on my iphone and ipad but haven’t been able to print out the invitation wording. the downside of the cricut is that that most of the fonts have to be printed on a separate printer – this would be fine if i was able to use the program on my macbook. 😦

anyway, the invitations are nearly done and i need to make the custom envelopes since they’re an awkward size. last night i didn’t go to bed until after 1am (working on the invitations again) but felt well-rested when i woke up this morning. penny actually got up for good around 7:50am and her talking roused me from my slumber.

i’ve also been feeling better physically. usually i have difficulty breathing and my acid reflux comes and goes particularly after i eat, but yesterday was the first day in a long time where i did not experience either. i’m feeling rather good today too. maybe it means baby boy has dropped so there’s less pressure on my stomach and lungs. the only that persists is the constipation. it started clearing up a few days ago but then it returned so it has been quite uncomfortable.

we haven’t finished our hospital bags yet (me, mostly because i still need to buy a few more items) but we are going to have the majority of them packed tonight. this is because dennis and i are making a half-day trip up to massachusetts tomorrow to visit my eldest aunt and grandma. my aunt’s health has always been terrible – longtime smoker and doesn’t eat well – but she has deteriorated significantly the last several months. most recently she had shingles to go along with her many other ailments. my mom informed me two days ago that the doctor said my aunt may pass away soon, maybe even that night! well, she hasn’t thankfully… still barely holding on though so dennis and i want to go see her because it may be our last time.

i was never close to my aunt – she only came to the states after i graduated college or maybe a little before that. she also had a tumultuous relationship with my grandpa (rest in peace) and doesn’t get along with my grandma either. simply put, she has a lot of anger and resentment.. and we can only feel bad for her. she was always friendly whenever we visited (even if it was only a front) and she really looked forward to seeing dennis and, of course, penny.

my grandma.. well, she was more like our mother when we were young. she looked after my siblings and me while our parents worked long hours at their dry cleaners, and then later on a restaurant. she will be 96 in april and has lived a very long and illustrious life. she had always been in great health even with her many falls and accidents but her brittle bones couldn’t take any more of those. it looks as if she will be in a nursing home from now on so she doesn’t have the comfort of being in her own home. i wish we could bring penny up to see both my aunt and grandma but i know it wouldn’t be safe health-wise. (i’m being very cautious myself especially when seeing my aunt.)

it’s very difficult to think that my aunt and grandma both don’t have a lot of time left on this earth. i get so caught up in my everyday life worrying mostly about mundane things that i don’t fully appreciate all the good things i have in life until i sit down and really ponder over my day. i still keep a journal and that helps me to recognize and address my thoughts, feelings, and day’s events. it’s not just so i can look back and remember how i had felt or what i had done on a particular day but writing is also very therapeutic because it’s a way for me to acknowledge what i am going through instead of bottling it all up inside.

i keep thinking of the bible verse: “and he said, ‘naked i came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall i return. the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” job 1:21. as i prepare to welcome a baby into this world, i’m also bracing for the departure of my aunt, and maybe even my grandmother later on in the year. i know my aunt is in a lot of pain and may not be entirely coherent but i hope she finds comfort knowing that her family members have, and continue to, visit her and provide company and support.

*update: my mom told me at 3:11pm that my aunt had passed away while my cousin was visiting. i’m very upset i wasn’t able to see her in time. still thinking of going up tomorrow; at least i can see my grandma.

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37 weeks

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brushing our teeth together in the morning

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we went to the kids fun fair held at the xl center in hartford last weekend. it’s definitely more appropriate for older children. penny wasn’t tall enough to go on any of the rides although one of the ride operators let her go on one… but she cried so he let her off.

i had a free adult ticket and child ticket courtesy of dennis’s store but i paid $15 for my mil’s ticket. food and rides are extra. i didn’t think it was worth $15 for the admission price. it wasn’t that big and you wouldn’t spend more than 2 hours there. (the online price of $10 sold out.) still, it was a great experience for penny to see live animals and also feed a llama!

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she was trying to entice the mules with straw

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llamas!

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after she fed the llama some kibble, she freaked out a little bit. she said, “all done!” in korean and wanted nothing more to do with the llama.

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she was fine until the ride started

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uh-oh…

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we got her a balloon to calm her down

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the line to ride the elephant was too long

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she really wanted to go on this ride and had a meltdown when she could not go on.

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adults aren’t allowed on otherwise my mil would’ve ridden with her.

after the fair, we had dinner at grandma’s house where penny always enjoys playing with vintage toys – her dad’s and uncle dan’s! she loves blowing the kazoo!

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caught in the act!

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originally a selfie for grandma

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yesterday was a beautiful day so we ventured outdoors. 

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checking out our reflection in the sewer water

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snack break after “tiny tots.” penny loves to read and sing every tuesday at the library.

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stacking pegs all by herself this morning

taking it easy..?

i’m 37 weeks tomorrow and i had the biggest scare of my pregnancy yesterday: i fell down the stairs. thankfully i was on my backside the entire time and i wasn’t carrying penny. however, the impact did hurt my bottom and as i turned around to bury my face in my arms to cry a little from the shock and pain, i saw penny staring at me in surprise from the top of the stairs. she even said, “아이~야야야야 아파” (“ouch, it hurts!”) and gave me a big cheesy grin in an attempt to make me feel better. i held out my arms and she climbed into them and smiled her toothy grin at me again. how could i not feel better? she’s such a sweetheart.

here’s how the unfortunate event unfolded: it was about ten minutes before 4pm after i had gotten penny from her nap. she had finished helping me load the washer and dryer and we were getting ready to go downstairs. i held a small box in one hand and descended the steps, planning to turn around to scoop penny up to bring her down the stairs. before i had even gone down a few steps, my feet slipped out from under me and i tumbled down. although it happened so quickly, i remember fervently hoping i wouldn’t land on my stomach.

i know my body is getting increasingly off-balance as i get bigger so the fall is a harsh reminder to really slow down and pay attention. i learned to multitask even more so as a parent so i could utilize my time better, but in my case this is not the best time to attempt to do everything at once. i could have brought the box downstairs at another time and held the railing to be safe. i certainly did hold on to the railing whenever i did go up and down the stairs after that incident.

although it is tiring on the days i’m alone with penny, she, herself, has been of great help. penny will want to move from activity to activity rather quickly but if i tell her to help me clean up, she will obey and put things away. she has always been a wonderful listener – if she wants to put something in her mouth or touch something, she’ll look at us to indicate what she wants to do. when we tell her “no” and explain why she can’t, she won’t do it. i think that’s why she’s hesitant when she tries out new toys or food; she’ll look at us for approval and if we consent then will she taste the food (after lots of encouragement) or put a block in a box. i am thankful for this as i don’t have to worry about battling with a toddler every day.

while it’s true that she would prefer having me nearby, if i tell her i need to go upstairs to prepare her meal she will say, “bye, 엄마” (bye, mom) and continue playing on her own. i like to come back downstairs quietly to catch penny talking to herself while playing. sometimes i even try to snap a photo.

penny has also been saying so many two-word phrases lately and even uttered a three-word phrase the other day: 엄마 맘마 됐다, after glancing at my empty plate. it basically means “mom’s food all done.” before she goes up for her nap, she has a ritual of saying goodbye to objects in the room as she leaves like “bye, blue”, “bye, purple” (referring to her paint – she said goodbye to every color), “bye, tea” (her teapot), “bye, 응가” (her potty). it’s really cute and i like how she is working on speaking longer phrases on her own. we speak to her in korean and english so we were initially worried that she would confuse words, but yesterday when i said “strawberry” to dennis she immediately said, “딸기” so she understands that those two words have the same meaning.

i’m hoping i still have a few more weeks with penny, but dennis and i actually wouldn’t mind if ezra came a week early (which, however, would mean less alone time with penny). we just don’t want him to be late.. but it’s not up to us, of course. in the meantime we are putting the finishing touches on the nursery, packing our hospital bags, and thinking of other tasks that we need to do (e.g washing and sanitizing baby bottles – i did this two days ago). whether he comes early or late, we will still have to learn to adjust to becoming a family of five (including yuri, our dog) but also how to handle a toddler and a newborn. that’ll be an experience for sure.

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me at 36 weeks


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this collage makes me laugh

it was warm for a few days so we were able to take a walk. penny loved being outdoors.

we hung up a mirror in the playroom recently and penny loves it so much! she’s kissing a spongebob pez dispenser in the first photo!

she saw yuri napping and said “yuri night-night” and wanted to go lie down next to her.

playing with snow since it was too cold to go outdoors

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washing the toy animals after being in the “mud” (brown paint)


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we recently bought her tempera paint, individual paint cups with lids, and matching brushes. she loves them!


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her masterpiece


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selfie from this morning


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playing by herself while i made her lunch

#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