5 years and counting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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my family

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penny’s 3rd birthday

I promised myself I wouldn’t go all out for penny’s 3rd birthday, especially since I had spent so much time, energy, and money on Ezra’s 1st birthday. but, it just isn’t me to not find an excuse to stay up late party planning and making decorations.

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penny doesn’t really love anything else as much as minnie mouse; but since she had already used that theme for her 2nd birthday party, I didn’t want her to reuse it. I settled on the unicorn theme which is really whimsical and quite popular.

to make the backdrop, I purchased a package of diy paper flowers from Michaels. this particular brand is recollections, and I had read bad reviews – difficult to follow illustrations, no written directions, requires a lot of tape/adhesive – but as they were the only kind Michaels sold, I purchased them anyway. they ended up being 60% off (regular price $19.99 for four flowers) maybe because they’re being discontinued? I couldn’t find any other diy paper flowers at Michaels – online or in store.

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the flowers were… time-consuming. I thought I would be able to whip them up but I spent quite a bit of time staring at the illustrations to make sure I had the correct size petals and that I was assembling them properly. in the end, I winged it because I really couldn’t figure out some of the steps! (recently, I also began rewatching random episodes of one of my all-time favorite shows, the office, so that’s a huge reason why I took so long in getting things done!)

I purchased green, black, lavender, and gold glitter card stock to make the leaves, eyelashes, ears, and horn respectively. I just traced them freehand and cut them out. I used a thick gold calligraphy pen to draw in the leaves’ veins to make them look more realistic. for the unicorn’s ears, I had white card stock at home that I used for the inner part of the ears.

the party room’s walls are bright shades of highlighter orange and lime green so I bought two plastic white tablecloths for a white backdrop. unfortunately, the tablecloths weren’t thick enough to hide the colors and designs underneath but, at least, most of it was covered. (I had looked up the party rooms online in advance to see how they looked.)

the party favors were diy unicorn horns made of funmallows (mini flavored marshmallows). I purchased the styrofoam cups and 5 bags of funmallows from target. (I only ended up using 3 bags for 21 unicorn horns.) the cone shaped plastic bags were purchased from Michaels.

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I also purchased the unicorn tablecloth, straws, and napkins from target. good ol’ target – I also found penny’s unicorn t-shirt in the girl’s section (size xs). the unicorn headband along with the unicorn cake topper were purchased as a set from amazon. the pink tutu was a gift and the polka dot pants are from carter’s.

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for those of you that know penny, she LOVES to jump so having her birthday party at jump off trampoline park was a no-brainer. lunch was included in the cost – pizza and pink lemonade – however, I wanted the kids to have other options in case they didn’t want pizza or wanted snacks. the trampoline park has a strict policy regarding outside food besides cake and cupcakes, but an employee informed me that if snacks are included in the goody bags, they can’t say anything. perfect! my husband assembled separate goody bags – this time, in gold and white paper bags – with an applesauce pouch, goldfish crackers, and a sticker packet in each one. thank goodness because penny barely ate the pizza (like we knew she wouldn’t. she only had a few bites of the crust.)

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the unicorn cutouts are from Michaels

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the cakes were almost a disaster. I had one cake ordered from big y, a small New England  supermarket chain, because I didn’t want to spend almost $100 on a fancy cake like I did for penny’s second birthday and for Ezra’s first birthday. well, supermarket bakeries have their limitations as we know. I just asked for a simple, 10-inch white cake with lavender, teal, and pink flowers cascading down the back for the unicorn-themed party. the cake wasn’t tall enough in my mind for the unicorn decorations. plus, it was my fault in asking for “happy birthday, Penelope” to be written on the cake. the baker didn’t know where to write that since I had told them I was going to use a cake topper; so it was written on the side where I needed to put on the eyelashes.

after Dennis told them we weren’t pleased with the cake, we just got a smaller (and taller) one from the display and the baker quickly piped on the flowers. the manager told Dennis they normally wouldn’t accept our request because it’s too detailed for them. we ended up getting the other cake for free. it was actually great that we had two cakes because we needed both to feed 18 children and some of the adults!

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although I stayed up until 5am (and laid wide-awake in bed for an hour and a half) finishing up the party decorations, I had a really wonderful time making them. I don’t know if it’s because I was watching the office but I wasn’t feeling stressed or anxious. Dennis did wake up around 4am wondering why I was still up. he ended up coming downstairs to help me finish the details. ❤ Dennis and my mil also were kind enough to watch the kids while I took a nap on the couch for 2.5 hours later that evening.

I received a lot of kind words from the guests that day regarding the decorations and the party itself. the kids really enjoyed jumping on the trampolines and eating cake together. many of the parents thanked me afterwards for inviting them and we all remarked how the kids would have a great nap when they got home. (they did.)

the party’s over and done with, and I’m glad. but I did enjoy putting it together for penny. I hope she remembers how much fun she had that day.

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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.

long winter days and nights

i believe in process. i believe in four seasons. i believe that winter’s tough, but spring’s coming. i believe that there’s a growing season. and i think that you realize that in life, you grow. you get better.

~ steve southerland

this quote is so on point. winter can be dreary, depressing, and drags on for what seems like an eternity in new england. and as much as i complain about the cold and being trapped indoors, i do like the snow. it’s so pure, bright, and pretty. i also like how it creates a soft blanket over everything. still, cold weather does not equal snow unfortunately because snow, to me, justifies the frigid temperatures.

 

i used to think winter made me appreciate my favorite season, summer, more but as i grow older, i’m not quite certain about that. i get cold easily even in the summer time so staying warm during winter has its challenges. lately, we’ve had extremely frosty temperatures with wind chills in the negatives. it literally hurt to be outdoors, just to get out of the car and run inside a store. now we are back to “normal” new england winter temperatures although friday was a balmy 60 degrees.

 

saturday, january 13: we beat cabin fever by going to the mall to ride the carousel. this was ezra’s first time riding an animal. the other times, he sat in the seat with grandma.

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friday, january 12. penny enjoyed splashing through the puddles in her hunter boots after a playgroup at a local school. she’s eating goldfish crackers from a cup.

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the warm weather + rain melted most of the snow away on friday

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there actually is a thing called the winter blues, or seasonal affective disorder. i feel like i’m much happier during spring and summer when there is more sunlight and warmth. i’m also probably more cheerful during these seasons because we aren’t confined indoors resigned to do the same activities over and over. who knows? maybe if i lived in sunny california, i’d be happy year-round… but nothing is ever perfect. california lately has been besieged with natural disasters such as wildfires and mudslides, so there’s no escaping the force of mother nature.

white christmas! these photos are long overdue!

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this photo was featured on the ig page: moms with cameras

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eating snow!

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it’s been rough over here in the so household for the past couple weeks. the kids had been sick which is no fun for anyone. penny’s congestion finally fully cleared up on wednesday but ezra still has a rattling sound when he breathes. he’s also teething so he’s been incessantly drooling. (his third tooth erupted yesterday.)

our daily struggles mostly concern miss p: being nice and sharing toys with ezra, using words to communicate instead of crying and whining, and eating. p lost nearly a pound while she was sick because of her refusal to eat most foods. now the weight difference between p and ezra are 1.6 lb. i weighed ezra the other day and he was 24.2 lb! i believe some of p’s emotional outbursts are because she’s hangry, but who really knows?! mealtimes have been a battle these days but now that she’s feeling a lot better she’s starting to eat more again.

on a positive note, a big milestone occurred today: penny used the potty on her own for the first time! while i was cooking dinner, penny announced she had to go potty and walked to the bathroom. my in-laws were over for dinner and we all thought penny was just pretending, but when my fil went over to check she had pulled down her pants and had already peed on the potty! when i walked over to see for myself, she had already finished wiping! i’m so proud of this girl!

it’s day 14 of the new year and so much has happened already. ezra is 9 months old; i went to a preschool fair to start preparing penny for preschool; i’m planning ezra’s first birthday (and penny’s 3rd birthday, already!); and preparing for our cancun trip in march! oh, and i also started a book club! that, i will go into detail in my next post. i want to finish this post so i can start reading tonight.

stay warm, friends.

 

welcome, 2018

and just like that, another year has gone by.

in previous years, like millions of other people, my new year’s resolution used to be to lose weight. although i would love to get my post-pregnancy bod back into shape i really want to focus on my emotional and mental state as well as my overall happiness and well-being.

my close mom friends know what i’m talking about because i’ve discussed this with them on many occasions, and they certainly can relate to the emotional and mental toll motherhood can take on you. some of you may wonder what could possibly have such an effect on me when i am blessed to stay home with healthy children who sleep well. that is certainly what my mom and sister wondered aloud when i had a breakdown at my mom’s house a few months ago.

no matter how well your children sleep, you’re always going to be tired. that’s being a parent. i think the chronic tiredness just becomes a part of you until your child moves out. i know i’m always tired because i choose to stay up late. every night i tell myself i’ll go to bed earlier, but i rarely do. if i happened to fall asleep at an earlier time it’s because i fell asleep on the couch while reading a book, trying in vain to update my blog, or while watching netflix. if i don’t stay up, i won’t get the chance to indulge in adult activities such as reading uninterrupted or even just getting to linger over a meal. these are all things i took for granted before i became a mom, and it’s the simple things i yearn for the most.

i’m going to try to put myself first sometimes. or even better, put dennis and myself first over the children.. for certain things. as parents, we sacrifice so much for our children but having a decent meal, for one, shouldn’t be one of them. sometimes i’m too tired to cook because of all the time i spent catering to penny’s ever-changing palate, but take-out isn’t usually healthy nor financially savvy.

i also used to love reading books and was reading a new book every week/every two weeks for a while until i hit a rut again. i got caught up in all of the things i had, and wanted, to do during my downtime like attempting to update my blog! i’ve had to renew two books three times already because i was having difficulty finding time to read. one of the books is the handmaid’s tale and i’m still only a quarter of the way through even though i just renewed it again.

i had also recently gotten a haircut, something i hadn’t done in 14 months(!) and had also recently wrote about. jjust having that done made me feel really good about myself. now i just need to get a massage soon as well as a mani/pedi 🙂

what i really aim to do is just be more h a p p y. this is tricky because you can’t exactly will yourself to be happy, you just have to be. by happiness, i mean… to relax a little, let things go, revel in whatever it is you’re going through, and enjoy life. nowadays with social media, it’s hard to actually enjoy the now because we’re so busy trying to document it for… later. i’m totally guilty of this as well. sometimes i have to restrain myself from whipping out my phone to take yet another picture to add to my library of 15,000 images.

i also have a bad(?) habit of building great expectations… for events, but mostly for people. i can hold a grudge like my life depended on it.. so i want to be more, not really forgiving, but more… understanding, and empathetic. often times i fret over certain friendships and wonder if the effort is really worth it. i feel like i’m usually the one reaching out to certain people, even just to ask how their day was and i just want to stop. i’m tired of wondering how they are. i’m just tired! i want to try to focus on the few great friendships i have instead of trying to cultivate a bunch just to feel like i’m part of a certain group. basically, this calls for me to be more loving to myself.. to be comfortable in my own skin and not feel like i need the validity of others – friends or family.

even with all of these revelations, 2017 was a wonderful year with the most memorable moment being the birth of ezra, our darling boy. it was also a challenging year as our family adjusted to a new family member and also having to endure the newborn demands once again.

it was a huge year for miss penny. not only did she lose her only-child status, but she also got potty trained in a week and a half; night-trained in a week; and begrudgingly gave up her nap/bedtime pacifier all within several weeks of each other. i blamed most of penny’s sudden mood changes and behavioral issues on the “terrible twos” but penny experienced many developmental growths and achieved big milestones (no diapers!)

i definitely can be too hard on penny sometimes. i’m just an impatient person to begin with, and i have a short fuse. maybe it’s because i get easily flustered and frustrated but i find it so difficult to understand, and empathize, with a two-year-old. i feel like a terrible mom most of the time because i get unnecessarily angry and annoyed at her behavior. it’s not like she’s an awful child; she has typical toddler behavior: jealousy over the baby and hangry meltdowns, to name a couple. my reactions sometimes make me wonder how i ever even enjoyed being a teacher until i remember i had specifically chosen elementary over early childhood for the reasons above. (and my experience at home is also why i don’t want to go back to teaching.)

every day i pray for more love, more patience, and more understanding. i want to love myself more so i can teach penny and ezra to love themselves more, too.

2018 – bring. it. on.

[ these are some pictures i took from new year’s weekend in massachusetts. ]

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dessert crepes for dinner at burlington mall

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double duty: cleaning the floor and entertaining little brother

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a “typical” lunch made by my mom

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we forgot yuri’s booties so we used ezra’s socks

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it was stiflingly hot in grandma’s room

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grandpa lee and ezra passing the ball back and forth

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grandpa lee playing the fishing game, one of penny’s favorite christmas gifts

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ezra has been pushing himself forward for a couple of weeks now. he still can’t crawl; he has trouble lifting up his belly so far. he is over 23 lb so maybe weight is one of the reasons! he seems pretty content on moving around this way or just wanting to stand even though he can’t do that on his own.

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ezra on the move!

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night changes

my favorite holiday used to be thanksgiving for as long as i could remember. i always looked forward to our huge family gathering, the endless amounts of traditional thanksgiving and korean food, and, of course, my birthday. the years that my birthday fell during thanksgiving weekend, or on thanksgiving day, were the best since i didn’t have to go to school, and, later on, work.

but now that i am married with two children, and also live a state away from most of my family members and relatives i feel christmas has usurped thanksgiving as my favorite holiday. for one thing, i’ve always loved christmas music. i could honestly listen to it all year long. as an adult, there’s something so nostalgic and cheerful about it… as if listening to the music alone will melt away the troubles of the world.

although christmas can be stressful (as most holidays can be) because of the expenses that come with purchasing gifts, thanksgiving became a source of anxiety once i had children. thanksgivings 2015 and 2016 were spent here in connecticut with my in-laws, my brother-in-law and his wife. dennis and i didn’t want to get stuck in crazy holiday traffic with a baby and dennis also had to work on friday.

this year, however, we were able to make it work (more details on the next post). although it was great catching up with cousins i hadn’t spoken to in a while (in person, that is) and seeing my grandma, it just wasn’t the same as it was even five years ago. for one thing, about ten family members didn’t attend due to scheduling conflicts or a personal issue within the family. also, my eldest aunt had passed away earlier in the year so her absence was palpable.

the title of this post is from a one direction song – yes, i’m a directioner. night changes discusses how things can change so quickly, and we notice this more as we grow older. i’m not as close to my cousins as i once was – and, distance can be one reason – so the family gatherings that i am able to attend can be awkward as we try to make small talk. i also wasn’t able to enjoy the food as much because i was helping to take care of the children, and making sure that they eat. this, of course, means that i can’t properly eat. i was still hungry even after devouring most of the food on my plate.

still, i’m glad that dennis and i made it work. bringing children anywhere is a challenge but we rose to the occasion!

did you know home depot hosts a kids’ workshop the first saturday of every month? my friend had told me about it but i had forgotten about it until i was notified through a weekly events page through hulafrog. this past saturday, home depot had a ‘make your own gingerbread house’ workshop where kids use a hammer and nails to construct their own gingerbread house.

it was a huge hit! people were spread out everywhere to assemble the houses, and a woman next to us commented how this was the biggest crowd she had seen for the kids’ workshop. i guess the holiday spirit had the people out in droves.

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eating a cracker while posing

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setting the nail in place

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looking over the instructions

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first time using a hammer!

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people kept coming!

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finding a spot

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the finished masterpiece

as for christmas, it will only get more enjoyable as the children get older. penny’s favorite christmas song is “jingle bells” and she loves to laugh during the “laughing all the way” line as well as shouting out “hey!” during the song. she also hung up a few ornaments on the tree as ezra watched.

now that we finally have our tree up, i am just waiting for our new family stockings to arrive. i ordered personalized ones from pottery barn kids and they are on their way. another thing that is in transit are our family pajamas. i’m not sure we’ll be able to create and send out a christmas card in time this year. i’ve been wanting to take pictures of the kids in front of the fireplace but i have been waiting on the stockings. if anything, we won’t be able to have christmas cards made in nice cardstock because express shipping will be so expensive. i do want to commemorate ezra’s first christmas so i will have to have something made!

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one of the elementary schools in my town is teamed up with frc (family resource center), and they host a playgroup on friday mornings. i recently began bringing penny so now we have an activity every weekday to keep us preoccupied. it’s very similar to the library playgroup where there is a storytime, extension activities, and free play. what’s different is that snack is also offered and the children sit together at the end of the playgroup to eat.

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making a snow-covered tree using q-tips and white paint

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decorating mittens

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night changes

We’re only getting older, baby
And I’ve been thinking about it lately
Does it ever drive you crazy
Just how fast the night changes?
Everything that you’ve ever dreamed of
Disappearing when you wake up
But there’s nothing to be afraid of
Even when the night changes
It will never change, me and you