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

 

summer daze

although fall doesn’t officially begin until september 22nd, it feels like summer is slowly coming to an end with the start of the school year around the corner. i certainly am relishing the long days and soaking up the last rays of the summer sun. as much as i like snow, i dread being stuck indoors and the sun setting at 4pm. i spent this summer planning activities and trying to coordinate them with my kids’ schedules. we didn’t travel anywhere exotic – even with the kids sleeping well, i wouldn’t quite consider traveling far with a toddler and an infant a “vacation” – nor do anything out of the ordinary, but we shared many laughs and created lasting memories.

one place that i’ve been dying to bring penny to is the dinosaur place in oakdale, ct. it is a 60-acre outdoor adventure park that includes new england’s largest splash pad, a jurassic-themed moon bounce, a maze, and a huge playground. there is also a 1.5 mile trail complete with 40 life-sized dinosaurs! the main reason we waited so long to bring her is the distance: it is nearly an hour away. since the dinosaur place opens at 10am, we would not be able to go in the morning and have enough time for penny to eat lunch, drive back, and take a nap. naturally, we planned for the afternoon. we pushed penny’s nap up so she would wake up earlier in the afternoon. (she still woke up around 2:30pm.)

there is so much to do, and you can easily spend the entire day there in order to properly experience everything. this is why admission is so expensive. i was surprised to learn admission for 2 and up is $24 during the peak season! there is no “kid’s price”: they pay the same as adults! for that reason alone, i really wouldn’t bring children unless they’re older.. maybe, at least 5 years old, to make the price worthwhile.

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we took a family photo before we explored the park

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penny enjoyed the splash pad the most!

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dad is regretting not bringing a change of clothes although he did wear swim trunks

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ezra did not like the jet spray of cold water

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can’t expect a toddler to look at the camera in the midst of water play

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this thing was awesome – half the time, kids were waiting for the huge bucket of water to fill up so it could tip over and come down the slide

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splash!

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waiting…

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walking the dinosaur trail

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dinosaur vertebrae

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ezra always has something in his mouth these days

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dinosaur maze

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our annual stop at dave’s place in oakdale, ct… it’s so good and always busy!

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my go-to: fried clam strips

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new england clam chowder and a cheeseburger

the day before, on saturday, august 12th, my mil and i took the kids to the tolland 4-h fair that was held across the street from where we live. we had taken penny there before when she was an infant but going on saturday made me realize just how small it is. i believe it was $3 for a walk-in fee.. not each person so that was fine.

there were a few vendors and food stands but the only thing that was of interest were the animals.  we looked at the llamas, cows, sheep, goats, chickens & roosters, and the rabbits (although the latter were closed off so we had to view from a distance). penny also liked looking at the row of tractors, old and new. she wanted to go on them but we told her they were only for looking.

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i don’t want to knock a fair, but it was just okay. i wouldn’t go back though, honestly. it was just something to do and all we had to do was walk over from our neighborhood.

dennis and i are really looking forward to taking the kids to farm day at the fish family farm in bolton. it’s on sept 2nd this year and it’s from 9am-5pm. we took penny last year but since she was so small she couldn’t participate in the children’s activities like the obstacle course. she did enjoy eating ice cream though (and it’s all-you-can-eat!) my friend, karen, and i found out from a vendor that there is a spin art station so i’ll be sure to look for that. hopefully this year we can make a tie-dye shirt too because we didn’t get a chance to last year.

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always smiling

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i will survive…

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ezra all dressed up for katie and mike’s wedding

[ friday, 5/5/17 ] i have been trying to publish this post for five days now. i have to go through what i already wrote to update. for instance, ezra is three weeks old as of this past tuesday! although the newborn stage has its challenges, like those motn (middle of the night) feedings, it’s also fairly easy in a sense that all the baby does is eat and sleep… unless he is wide awake all night.. and he was for almost 3 hours last night! after over an hour, dennis took over so i could sleep. ezra hates getting his diaper changed so the motn diaper changes stress me out because of how much he cries. i find that changing his diaper after a feeding will result in him being more calm because he’s content; but then i have to put him back to sleep since the whole process will have woken him up from his milk coma. so, now i stop him halfway through a feed to change his diaper (if he has pooped) since i can soothe him with milk afterwards.

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ezra at 2 weeks old

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with the exception of the first few days in the hospital, penny was exclusively breastfed until she switched over to hemp and whole milk at 13 months. there is no way i am going to be able to do this the second time around. as it is, it’s tough to find time to pump even with help. i also didn’t want to constantly pump and then be engorged on the days i’m alone and can’t find the time to do so. i had thought i could pump while playing with penny but, for some reason, she has developed a fear(?) of the pump. i’m guessing the fear stems from the pump’s appearance because she is also scared of the horn that was included with her set of musical instruments and a toy blender. who knows why?

i have tried to pump after an early morning feeding (usually i’m nodding off in bed), then during penny’s naptime, once during the evening, and then before bed. i pumped once today for comfort after not having pumped for a day and a half (!) with a nursing session in-between. looks like my nursing/pumping days are over very soon.. it does make me a little sad. in a way, i feel apologetic towards ezra.. and a little guilty because i was able to make it work for penny. but i know it’s much less stress for me.

i was also under the weather after our friends’ wedding this past sunday, most likely due to exhaustion and not eating enough these past few weeks. breastfeeding moms, particularly, need to eat well and drink plenty of water but i had been neglecting myself. that, along with sleep deprivation and infrequent pump sessions, tanked my supply. i have been supplementing with enfamil enspire formula because i had read that it’s the closest to breast milk but it was giving ezra a lot of gas. we switched over to similac (a sample from the pediatrician’s office) and he seems to be doing better with that.

although ezra is only three weeks old he has definitely become more alert. around week 2, he had a significant growth spurt where he was extra sleepy and hungry. his newborn clothes had been loose on him but now they are a bit more snug. that week was also when the witching hour began. from 6pm on, he wouldn’t sleep and would cluster feed. some of the times, however, he wasn’t hungry and just wanted to be held. there were instances where we fed him because we mistook his cues and he was very unhappy and uncomfortable from the extra milk (and gas). one night, ezra was awake from 7pm until after 11pm! every time he fell asleep in my arms and i put him down, he would wake up. my dinner had gotten cold and i gave up trying to do anything that night. after one more feed around 10, he finally fell asleep in my arms while i was in bed. i had fallen asleep too and didn’t wake up until nearly midnight to place him in his rock and play.

this is dennis’ long week at work which also means it’s a long week for me. (but now that it’s friday night instead of tuesday when i originally started this post, it’s almost over!) thankfully, i have a few play dates lined up on the days i would have been alone. i’m hoping penny will cooperate as her aversion to most adults is still going strong. (she was apprehensive initially when parker came over today but she warmed up, and they played well together.)

my mom and my sister also drove down from boston to visit for the day so i was able to take a 2.5 hour nap while they took care of ezra and played with penny. it was glorious! now i just need to get through this weekend and we can have a family day on monday since dennis has it off.

hoping tonight isn’t like last night! fingers crossed…

[family day in hartford]

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she wouldn’t leave the water station at ct science center

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snacking on blackberries

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[in-laws’ 38th wedding anniversary]

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cake

i made this cute cake topper using my cricut!

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[ katie & mike’s wedding ]

location: the barns at wesleyan hills in middletown, ct

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[ visit from mom and sister from last week ]

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nearing the end

i’m on week 35. i sound like a broken record, but it’s unreal how quickly this pregnancy has gone by. i recall being excited, nervous, and scared for penny’s arrival but i have a few more emotions to add to this one: sadness and guilt. i know, i know, i talked about guilt in my last post but this one is a bit different. for the past 22 months, penny has been the light in our lives; our shining star; the center of our universe… and in five short weeks, a tiny little being will steal some of her spotlight.

of course, we will try our best to make sure penny will get as much love and attention as possible – with much help from her paternal grandparents – but there will be plenty of times where mommy can’t cater to penny’s needs because she has to nurse or comfort a newborn. i really wonder how she will react to me holding a baby all the time especially in the early stages. she already is so helpful with cleaning and retrieving items so i’m hoping she will want to help take care of her baby brother.

it has been nearly a month since penny has been incredibly clingy, and she only wants me to do certain tasks such as bring her up for her bath. bathtime used to be daddy’s thing, but these days instead of running into his arms she’ll ask me to take her upstairs instead. once she’s in the bathtub, she’s fine with daddy (or grandma) giving her a bath but she will want to be carried upstairs by me. another thing that penny only wants me to do is read her books. if anyone else tries to read her a book, she stops them and has me do it instead. it’s a bit endearing honestly but very tiring too particularly if she only wants to be held by me.

we went up to boston the first weekend of march, and one of the activities we did was go to the museum of science. while there, she only wanted to be held by me. she didn’t even want to walk! you can imagine how exhausting that was especially with my belly in the way! if i tried to put her down to walk with her, she would curl her legs right back up. of course, she had been sick that week and was finally returning to her old self so she could’ve been seeking comfort. plus, her nap was about an hour so i know she was tired. i get frustrated and annoyed at times because i’m so tired, but i keep reminding myself that these are the last precious few weeks of holding and taking care of just one child. my first child. so, i try to take it in stride because i know i’ll miss these moments where i can just hug her at any time without having to tell her that i can’t embrace her right now because i’m holding her brother.

this is why i try to keep our days busy with activities; even when all i want to do is be lazy and put in minimal effort. i know it’s not fair to penny if i “check out” now more so since these are my last few weeks with just her. plus, i like seeing her engaged and happy. no matter how many toys you have, you’ll get sick of them so i’m always bringing her to places and thinking of activities we can do. and lastly, when the baby comes i’ll need time to recover… but then i won’t have time for anything but taking care of the baby. i know i’m going to yearn for the days where i can just get up and take penny somewhere even if it’s last-minute.

here are some memories we’ve made during the past two weeks.

we love to visit libraries, and one that we visited was south windsor public library in my husband’s hometown. after checking out the children’s area and befriending another toddler named jasmine, penny wanted to explore the rest of the library.

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her love for cars and trucks continues…

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when we walked by the children’s room, i knew she would love the chair

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there were some really good illustrations on here…

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two weekends, we made our final trip up to boston as a family before ezra’s arrival. our main purpose was to see my parents but also my grandma.. but unfortunately we weren’t able to visit my grandma because she had contracted MRSA.

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enjoying 미역국, seaweed soup, with grandma

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we visited the museum of science on saturday afternoon.

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at the chocolate exhibit

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she wanted a selfie with this giant acorn cushion

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playing at the gift shop

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mess-free sand

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trying dippin’ dots for the first time

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naptime while penny naps

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dinner with ben before watching hacksaw ridge

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cute pose by yuri

we went to vinkari safari in woburn again. all she wanted to do was ride the vehicles 🙂 it would’ve been fine if she stayed in a certain car for a period of time but we would push her for less than a minute and she would want to switch to a different car.

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we were craving 팥빙수, korean shaved ice so we stopped by cafe benne before heading back home. the dessert next to the strawberry/ sweet red bean shaved ice is a s’mores toast!

penny had been sick the week leading up to our boston trip. since she was still getting over her cough, we went up on saturday morning instead of friday. it was a short(er) trip but we still enjoyed seeing my parents, eating good korean food, and continuing our tradition of a “movie night” with ben (alf couldn’t make it because of a work project).

a library that we absolutely love, and go to twice a week, is booth & dimock library in coventry. on tuesdays from 10:15-11:15, they have a free program called tiny tots, which includes free play with toys and a group reading activity as well as singing along to songs.

on wednesdays they have free play from 10:30-11:30.

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in a great mood on the way to the car

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she’s touching a plant that had a soft bulb on it

a chick-fil-a restaurant recently opened in west hartford. since it has an indoor play area, a few of my mommy friends and i decided to have a playdate there. although the sign said for ages 3 and under, we all agreed that it was more suitable for ages 3 and older. penny and i climbed up the structure but she was too nervous to enter the tubes to go down the slide. there also wasn’t really much for the kids to do there either so i wouldn’t recommend a play date there… but lunch was really good! penny didn’t want her chicken nuggets but she ate the fruit cup, waffle fries, and drank the juice.

i only found out after i had come home that chick-fil-a offers books as an alternative to a toy for ages 3 and under! i wish i had known because the paper toy she received was too advanced for her so i trashed it.

penny was so tired she actually fell asleep on the drive home! she hasn’t fallen asleep in the car since her infant days because we time our outings so that she’s home for her nap and bedtime routine. i was worried she wouldn’t fall asleep for her nap but she did.. and then i had to wake her up because it was getting late.

penny’s library books were due last thursday so we went to tolland library. the entire library was renovated recently and the children’s area is a spread out instead of being in an enclosed room. i actually liked the room because it prevented penny from wandering around but this was nice too.

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taking a break to snack on strawberries

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she’s great at stacking cups

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i bought these sensory beads from amazon. you soak them in the water for 6-10 hours (too long and they crumble/fall apart), drain the water, and let the kids play!

they feel like tapioca balls found in bubble tea. it’s amazing how fast they swell up!

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she was laughing because she threw the balls down the spiral chute

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remember the gno out from my last post? 10 ladies made it out and we had a wonderful time!! can’t wait to do it again soon. thanks to the baby daddies for taking care of the babies while the moms destressed!

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