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

 

baby shower for ezra so

those of you who are connected to me on facebook have seen most of the photos already, but i did want to share the photos on the blogosphere as well so that i have a written account.

the baby shower was held last saturday, february 18th, at our home and was lovingly, and fantastically, organized by my good friend, genie. somehow, she found the time to create the decorations by hand (including a tissue paper leaf garland that she sewed together using a sewing machine) balancing both work and motherhood full-time. in addition, she also made the adorable onesies and t-shirts for the little guests as well as the wooden teething rings for the babies and moms-to-be. everything was so adorable and fit the woodland theme. my friend, katie, also made the cupcakes and grace brought a helium tank and balloons.

i’m really glad genie came over around 10:30am to start setting up because we needed the extra time even though the shower didn’t start until 3:30pm. penny was really clingy that day and showing a lot of “stranger danger” so i couldn’t do much to help in the beginning but take care of her while dennis started setting up and also getting ready to go pick up the food, drop off our dog at his parents’ house, and pick up a few last-minute items. katie, mike, and grace also all came over early to help.

it really touched me to see our friends travel from all over to help us celebrate another baby. initially i had planned on having two showers: one in ct and one in boston like i did with penny but i didn’t want to overdo it. friends reassured me that if people really want to come they will travel even if it’s far. and travel they did. i even had a friend who’s due the week after me travel all the way from new hampshire! i was also excited to see my mom, my sister, jen, and her boyfriend, brendan, especially since they were the only ones to attend the shower from my family.

i hope you enjoy seeing the photos from my shower. 🙂 my wish is for ezra to see this blog post someday and realize how much love and support he had gotten already from his family and friends though he had yet to make an appearance.

7 more weeks until we see you, baby boy!

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felt flowers sewn together hanging from a real branch along with “ezra”

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what i love about the decor is that we can reuse them in the nursery

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sweet cupcakes by katie

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birch tree twigs by genie

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i made the cheese spread the night before and grace set everything up!

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the whistle for willie book is there because it’s by ezra jack keats

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handmade teething rings and onesie

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cute signs and clothes to go along with the theme

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gifts for the little ones

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toddlers also got an egg shaker

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treats for the adults

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a curtain of greens and baby’s breath

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pic of the set-up crew 

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waiting for the guests to arrive

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my sister made a diaper motorcyle

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mama-to-be hanna and her husband, yuri

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sisters, elaine and alice, with their sons, jj and ethan

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jen and mom

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love the kingsley’s

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loving the attention from her grandmas who wore strangely matching outfits

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mom and brendan

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group game: match baby animal to the adult

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game for men: blow up a balloon, tie it, stuff it under shirt, and bend & snap!

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rob won (he’s snapping)

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always the goofball

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look at that belly!

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penny received a few gifts as well

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penny checking out her brother’s clothes while miss cali helps us open gifts

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we had such a wonderful time with our family and friends, but am glad the shower is over. it’s always a lot of work prepping for an event. but, much of the credit goes to genie since she spent so much time (and money) making the decor and creating sweet details.

thanks to everyone who was involved and to all those that came. we feel the love!

 

valentine’s arts & crafts

with valentine’s day two days away, it’s not too late to make cute gifts handmade by your toddler. i selected 4 different projects and started doing them in mid-january so i could 1) spread them out, and 2) have ample time to get each one completed.

the first project penny and i created were tie-dye paper hearts.

materials needed

  • card stock (preferably, white)
  • scissors
  • food coloring (at least 3 different colors)
  • white vinegar
  • baking soda
  • spoon
  • dropper
  • small bowls
  • newspapers or big piece of cardboard
  • paper plates, baking pan or plastic take-out containers

*note: i got all of the materials prepped beforehand so penny wouldn’t make too much of a mess with the food coloring

first, i poured a small amount of vinegar into clean yogurt bowls and i added a few drops of different colored food coloring to each container. then i folded card stock in half and cut out hearts in various sizes (i cut out 4 total). next, i laid out a big piece of cardboard to protect the kitchen floor. finally, i set down all of the materials in front of penny and demonstrated what to do. she was really eager to try and learned how to use a dropper.

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first, you generously sprinkle baking soda onto the heart.

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then, using a dropper you squeeze food coloring and vinegar all over the heart.

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make sure to cover the entire heart.

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she liked seeing the baking soda and vinegar mixture bubble

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she kept playing with the ingredients even after the project was done.

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when the hearts are dry, scrape off the excess baking soda into a trash can and the color will be even brighter.

the second project that we did were the “love” canvases. having another adult is preferred for this project because of the paint.

materials needed

  • canvases (different sizes if preferred)
  • washi tape
  • pencil and eraser
  • washable paint
  • paper plate
  • brushes in various sizes
  • big piece of cardboard or newspapers

any project that requires paint, we do just before bathtime so we can scoop penny up and place her in the tub. this also requires prep work. i wrote the letters l-o-v-e using a pencil and no stencil though you could! then i used washi tape to cover only the letters: this is so when penny paints the canvas, the letters remain untouched until you peel the tape off afterwards.

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*note – washi tape works better than blue tape used for painting rooms (surprisingly) but it may have been because the blue tape we had was less sticky to prevent drywall from coming off.

we also found that using less colors made the artwork look prettier since when paint is smeared around, the colors turn brownish. for the second canvas, i opted only to use red, pink, purple, and white. for the last one, i also added a sky blue color.

you may find that there is a lot of negative space left. we had to keep turning the canvas so penny would evenly distribute the paint. there’s no need to cover the entire canvas but make sure the letters can be seen when the tape is peeled off. in addition, penny was rather shy about painting even though she gets excited for it. she was mostly fixated on squishing the paint between her fingers and saying, “지지” (which means “dirty”) so we had to reassure it was okay to be messy.

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less colors the second and third time around

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the third project we did was the valentine’s photo magnets we purchased from oriental trading. i get a catalog from this company though i had never purchased from them before – it was probably from my teaching days. i flipped through the february issue and saw a few arts & crafts projects including the photo magnets. i settled on this one because it was the easiest for a young toddler to do and is a nice keepsake. a package of 12 magnets was $7.99 but shipping was almost the same!

i think the hardest part was choosing different photos for each magnet. i chose family members and penny’s friends for a total of 12 magnets (of course, we made one for our family too). for penny’s friends, i made sure to select pictures that included penny and her playmate. the cutout for the photo was also small so for some magnets, i had to make the hole bigger and/or cut out the images from photos to make a collage. you’ll see what i mean when you see the photos below.

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she loves stickers!

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10/12 magnets

finally, the last project we did was stamping hearts using a toilet paper roll.

materials needed

  • toilet paper roll
  • paper
  • scotch tape
  • washable paint
  • newspapers or big piece of cardboard
  • brushes and sponges

while holding the toilet paper roll. you make a crease across the top by gently folding it. then, pinch the bottom of the roll so it makes the point of the heart.maintain the heart shape by taping the two rounded tops of the heart together. then you pour paint onto a plate, dip the stamp onto it, and you have a heart stamper!

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knowing toddler’s attention spans, you will find this is a quick activity which is why i also included brushes and sponges to keep penny preoccupied for a little while longer. again, she enjoyed touching the paint more than anything.

i hope you enjoyed reading this post and have fun making a mess creating beautiful artwork with your little ones!

happy valentine’s day ❤

maryland & dc

penny’s hit another milestone – 18 months! this means in six months she’ll already be two years old. what?! this also means that in six short months she’ll already be a big sister to a one-month-old. oh boy.

this post will be about our family vacation to maryland & dc; and i will also share tips and advice on how to make traveling with a toddler a little bit easier on everyone. we came back home around noon on monday and put penny down for her nap right away. we planned everything around penny’s nap schedule and it worked out perfectly. our days went like this: wake, quick continental breakfast in the hotel lobby, morning activity, lunch/nap, afternoon~evening activity, dinner, penny’s bedtime, and adult time.

we really looked forward to penny’s nap time because that meant we could nap too! what made this trip so much easier on everyone was that we booked a 2-bedroom suite. penny got her own room, mil stayed in the other room, and dennis and i slept on the pull-out couch. the hotel provided a pack-and-play and we brought our own mattress and sheet for it after finding out the hotel doesn’t provide that. initially we were going to buy another one and have it shipped to crystal and dan’s apartment but dennis found that we could fold the mattress in half, stuff it into a dry cleaning bag, and check it in as luggage. we flew southwest which provides two free check-in bags for each individual.

of course, we made sure to bring along the baby monitor and the white noise machine. we also made sure to pack her favorite books, cars & trucks, tons of snacks, pens, paper, and the ipad. it was a short 45-minute plane ride from hartford to baltimore. she did great during take-off and landing because we had her either drink milk or eat a fruit & veggie pouch. the ipad was a lifesaver – since we hadn’t been giving her screen time on the ipad ever since her 15-month checkup it was like she was using it for the first time. she was entranced and had even forgotten how to use it until dennis touched the screen with his fingers.

another thing that helped was that mil was randomly selected to go in the pre-check line going to and returning from baltimore, and she was able to bring penny through the quicker line. while she waited for us, she entertained penny by having her look out at the windows to watch the planes take off and also fed her snacks. much better than having to deal with a feisty toddler in a slow-moving line!

when we arrived in baltimore, our luggage was already waiting for us so we didn’t have to waste precious time waiting and sifting through the baggage claim. it was also an 8-minute shuttle ride to the car rental place. the only thing that took a little bit of time was installing the car seat. it was pretty beat up and dingy (word of advice: bring lots of wipes – not baby wipes but sanitizing ones. we used wet ones to clean the baby seat). penny also sits in a rear-facing convertible seat back home (connecticut law is until 2 years of age) so she really enjoyed facing forward during the car rides on our trip.

one thing i really wanted to see during our trip was the national mall: the lincoln memorial, the washington monument, and the white house. we thought about it and decided to nix it because it’s a lot of walking and it would most likely be difficult to find parking on a weekend particularly veterans day weekend. hopefully i can cross these off my bucket list in the near future. it’ll be much easier sight-seeing when penny’s sibling is, at least, three years old.

most of the activities were catered towards penny but we had just as much fun seeing her experience new sights and sounds. best of all, we were able to meet up with crystal and dan (despite their busy schedule); we also enjoyed our adult time after penny went down for the night by playing games, eating ice cream, and talking. we’ll be able to see them again next monday when they drive up from maryland for five days!

on one of the days we met up with my childhood friend, clara, and her son, barrett, for breakfast at founding farmers. i hadn’t seen clara in well over a decade! it was so great to catch up with her and meet barrett. i completely forgot to get a group photo of us especially a few snaps of penny and barrett together. it’ll be some time before we see each other again but hopefully i don’t forget next time.

day 1: travel/playseum/dinner/sleep/adult time

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she loved watching the planes


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goodbye, connecticut!

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on our way to the hotel!

be with me, a playseum in bethesda

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touching various herbs and spices at the chinese market

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this was a neat room – “grandma and grandpa’s house.” it was full of vintage items


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a tin box featuring a young queen elizabeth II

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princess room

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dinner & after-hours:

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dinner at a nearby korean restaurant

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ice cream for the adults! dan and i got toasted sesame brittle and crystal and dennis got caramel coffee. vanilla for mil!


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teaching crystal, dan, and mil how to play blokus

every night we went to bed around 10:30~11pm. we were tired way before that but wanted to spend time with crystal and dan since they were busy during the daytime. and, of course, we tried to sleep as much as we could since we had to wake up when penny did. aforementioned she did very well sleeping in the hotel though.

day 2: wake/breakfast/brunch with clara & barrett/nap/port discovery children’s museum/dinner/penny’s bedtime/adult time

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playing basketball at the hotel after breakfast

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stuffed french toast at founding farmers

port discovery children’s museum in baltimore

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she liked climbing on top of the drum


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toddler room

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interactive floor

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she enjoyed cooking at the diner

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she loves cars and trucks


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spinning display of dancers during chu’seok (korean thanksgiving)

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souvenir: fire engine

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we got back to the hotel around 6pm where crystal and dan were waiting with italian food for dinner. after penny’s bedtime routine, crystal and dan taught us a card game called bang and we played until 10:30.

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praying before penny’s bedtime

day 3: wake/breakfast/smithsonian national zoo/lunch & nap/playground at silver spring/dinner at 옛골 (yett gol  – korean restaurant)/penny’s bedtime/pack & adult time

note: going to the zoo right when it opened was a great decision. there were very few people there until we were getting ready to leave around 10:45 – then it started getting packed with groups of school children and families.

the zoo is free. we spent 2.5 hours there and it was well worth it. parking is $22… they have to make money somehow.

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right when we parked we saw two squirrels fighting


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looking at the zebras in the way back

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we were very excited to see the pandas!

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this panda is getting treats out of the ball

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family of wild deer making their way through the grounds


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turtles and lemurs (not pictured)


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tiger


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casually observing the llamas

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cute goats perched on stumps

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penny was having a meltdown here


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much-needed family photo

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the only downside to coming early was that we weren’t able to see all of the animals. some of the enclosures were being cleaned so the animals weren’t there like the lions.

in the evening, we took penny to a park that had a huge playground. there were really tall slides and after going all the way up to the top to slide down, i chickened out. that’s how tall it was!

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dennis and dan walking up the rubber hill

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bedtime routine


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reading with uncle dan

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we didn’t get to hang out with crystal that day because she had a lot of assignments for grad school. we only saw her briefly when she came to pick up dan at the hotel. after penny went to bed, we played blokus and went to bed.

day 4: wake/breakfast/travel/home/lunch & nap

i didn’t take any pictures of us making our way back home.. i guess i was just too tired. after coming home around noon and putting penny immediately down for a nap we quickly ate pizza and napped as well.

it’s always great getting away but there’s nothing like home!

before i close, here are some helpful tips for traveling with a little one(s):

  1. start packing two days in advance. i packed all of penny’s clothes, accessories, and pajamas two days before we left and left things like her lovey, sleep sack, and baby monitor until the end.
  2. book flights first thing in the morning. (or red-eye if it’s a long flight.) our flight from hartford -> baltimore departed at 8:45am. we loaded up the car and waited until 6:30am to wake penny up, changed her, and left. we wanted to make sure she still got enough sleep. thankfully our flight was short so we made it to the hotel in time for her nap.
  3. find out what the hotel provides and doesn’t provide. the mattress pad for the pack and play was a lifesaver because she definitely would not have slept well on a thin pad that comes with the pack and play. the continental breakfast was also a HUGE plus! we had one less meal to worry about and it was so convenient. also, find out if the hotel is near restaurants and stores. ours had babies ‘r us and target across the street. we made a trip to target twice to buy snacks, milk, water, and cheap toys from the dollar section for penny.
  4. plan an itinerary and keep in mind of the distance to/from hotel, the hours, and admission. while researching for baby-friendly activities i came upon “be with me” a playseum for children in bethesda. it was about a 20-minute ride from our hotel and we brought her here our first day in maryland.
  5. be realistic. you won’t get to do everything you want to do and you have to be okay with that. little ones get tired really easily and is it worth dealing with their meltdowns because you absolutely had to check out a certain museum?the trip was definitely a lot easier on us too because we had an extra pair of hands from my mil. at the smithsonian zoo, she didn’t want to stay in the stroller at one point so we took turns carrying her and letting her walk. see if you can get your parents or in-laws (or other family members) to join you on your vacation. the extra help helps!