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.

FullSizeRender (47)

me at 36 weeks


IMG_7334

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

IMG_7388

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


IMG_7401

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


IMG_7404

her masterpiece


IMG_7410

selfie from this morning


IMG_7416

playing by herself while i made her lunch

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!

img_6527

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

img_6529

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

img_6530

sweet cupcakes by katie

img_6532

birch tree twigs by genie

img_6531

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

img_6528img_6533

img_6535

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

img_6534img_6537img_6536img_6538img_6539

img_6540

handmade teething rings and onesie

img_6541

cute signs and clothes to go along with the theme

img_6543

gifts for the little ones

img_6417

toddlers also got an egg shaker

img_6542

treats for the adults

img_6544

a curtain of greens and baby’s breath

img_6545

pic of the set-up crew 

fullsizerender-12

waiting for the guests to arrive

fullsizerender-11

my sister made a diaper motorcyle

fullsizerender-7

fullsizerender-14

fullsizerender-9

mama-to-be hanna and her husband, yuri

img_6644

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

fullsizerender-26

jen and mom

fullsizerender-23

love the kingsley’s

img_6656

loving the attention from her grandmas who wore strangely matching outfits

fullsizerender-24

img_6657

fullsizerender-28

mom and brendan

fullsizerender-27fullsizerender-29img_6653fullsizerender-31img_6652

fullsizerender-10

group game: match baby animal to the adult

fullsizerender-13fullsizerender-16fullsizerender-15fullsizerender-32

fullsizerender-20

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

fullsizerender-17fullsizerender-22

fullsizerender-21

rob won (he’s snapping)

fullsizerender-19

always the goofball

fullsizerender-18

look at that belly!

img_6651

penny received a few gifts as well

fullsizerender-25

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

fullsizerender-30fullsizerender-33img_6648img_6641

fullsizerender-5fullsizerender-6

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!

 

those busy toddler days

miss penny is 20 months old now – closer and closer to becoming a 2-year-old. every day, penny goes back and forth from being a fiercely independent toddler to a clingy one. most of the time she will want to do things on her own — placing different shapes in the correct cutouts, putting animals in a truck, etc. — and even knock our hands out of the way if we try to help. and then, out of nowhere, she will climb onto my lap or ask to be picked up. she’s been like a baby sloth lately – i’ll try to put her down and she’ll curl her legs right back up.

img_5326

i actually don’t mind the extra comfort that penny is seeking nowadays because i know i won’t be able to cuddle her as much when ezra arrives, but it’s getting more difficult to pick her up and carry her around as my belly continually expands. i wonder if it’s a phase she is going through or if she senses her baby brother – i’m thinking both. she doesn’t ask anyone else – not even her dad – to pick her up and hold her like she does to me. when dennis works the day shift, he does bath time. all he has to say is “bath time” or “bubbles” and penny will run into his arms. lately, she’s been twisting in his arms and extending her arms to me so i’ve been bringing her upstairs to give her a bath. even yesterday when grandma so tried to bring her upstairs, penny insisted i do it instead.

within the past month, penny has also had 6 teeth come in! she had 4 for the longest time and now she has all of her first molars (top and bottom) and two of the lateral incisors (one on top and one on bottom). they never really affected her sleep (lucky us) but probably had an effect on her daytime mood and eating habits.

mh_eruption_primary

penny has been at the late end of the tooth eruption stage for all her teeth thus far

now we are just waiting for her canines, the rest of her lateral incisors, and later on, her second molars.

penny definitely acts clingy when i’m around; she doesn’t really look for me if i’m not there. last wednesday, grace and i went to new jersey for the day. i was a little worried that penny would look for me and get upset that i wasn’t there, but she was fine. dennis woke up in the morning to take care of her since i had to leave around 8am to get to grace’s house so we could carpool. dennis even made me an egg, cheese, and sausage breakfast sandwich to eat on the road! his mom came a few hours later to take over and penny was great, as usual, for the rest of the day as well.

img_5188

avocado toast at kuppi cafe

img_5192

i’d been to this cafe once before but i had no idea the owner and i had mutual friends. we ended up getting our orders on the house!

img_5195

lunch at mitsuwa

img_5197

nuna pipa car seat

img_5199

dream shade

img_5200img_5201img_5224img_5225

img_5205

gam mi-ok before heading home

grace and i had a wonderful time in jersey. it felt so odd to be away from home for an entire day. i’m trying to think of the last time i did that and i really can’t remember. sure, i’ve been gone a few hours here and there recently but not a whole day. i just thought about penny the entire time (of course) and how much i missed her.

when we went shopping at garden state plaza mall, i vowed i’d buy something for myself because i rarely do these days. i ended up buying a lot of clothes from zara for penny (all on sale), a few items for dennis and jeggings for myself from uniqlo. grace and i also tried out strollers and car seats at nordstrom – uppababy vista for her and the nuna pipa car seat for me. i’ve been looking to replace the mesa car seat with a nuna pipa so i was glad i was able to try it out in person. the feature that i like the best is the dream drape – the extra sun shade extends to the baby’s feet. it also weighs about 7.7 lb: one of the lightest car seats out there. i’m still stuck on the color – the classic black is always nice especially since the infant insert is a cream color, but i am also partial to indigo.

my friend, grace, also had her mickey mouse-themed baby shower on the 15th. i made a banner for the shower and i’m really pleased with how it turned out. i made the mickey mouse cutouts and the letters without using any templates. the korean characters proved to be the hardest because i wanted the font to look authentic and the size had to fit inside the bunting.

img_5104img_5106

since the shower was at 3:30pm, i was able to bring penny. i’m glad i brought her so i can get her accustomed to attending more social gatherings since she tends to be shy; but also in a few months i’ll have to learn how to tote two (!) around so i should take advantage of only having to do one for now. it still did prove to be difficult because she wanted to be held for the first half hour (my arms were killing me) but she did eventually warm up and walked around and played with the other children.

img_5356

penny & ethan

img_5159

with the mommy-to-be

img_5145img_5132

img_5131

i thought it was an actual cake

img_5129img_5128img_5125img_5122img_5121img_5123img_5144img_5130img_5146img_5147

i wish i had brought food from home though because she couldn’t really eat any of the food provided. she snacked on sun chips, a few crackers, pineapple and strawberries; refused cheese and, not surprisingly, the olives and roasted veggies. i thought she would, at least, eat a few bites of the creamy pasta but she didn’t. she wanted the salad – she likes lettuce even though it’s hard for her to eat it – but ended up munching on the raw onions! she also ended up eating a cupcake sans frosting and drinking juice from a juice box for the first time ever. when we got home, i made sure to feed her a little bit more before starting the bedtime routine.

img_5154img_5152img_5150

a highlight was that i won one of the games – something that i’ve never done at a baby or bridal shower, i believe. i got a starbucks gift card with a “year of the rooster” illustration on it – yay!

recently, a few mommy friends and i met up for a group play date. we were excited to visit imagine nation, a children’s museum in bristol, for the first time. i was wary of the distance though (a 40-minute drive) since the museum opens at 9:30am and penny and i would need to leave around 11am to come back home in time for lunch.

penny actually ended up doing really well on the car ride (credit goes to the forward-facing seat) so that wasn’t an issue. we all discovered when we arrived there that the museum is closed on mondays and tuesdays! one of the mommies suggested we go to the public library a half mile down the road and we all hoped they would have a decent children’s section. they do! in fact, they have one of the best children’s rooms in a library that i’ve ever seen: spacious, filled with toys and tablet stations (!), and a sensory board on a wall. it ended up working out because penny and i had gotten to the museum around 10 so we would’ve only had about an hour to play. (admission is $10/person.)

img_5177img_5178

img_5179

penny enjoying strawberries while parker munches on veggie sticks

img_5180

img_5181

penny and serina checking out the sensory board

dennis and i ended up bringing penny to imagine nation later on in the week. the exhibits are spread out and capacious but we felt that the museum geared towards older kids – at least, 4~5 years old and up. penny is still young enough where she wasn’t engrossed in many of the exhibits like the wellness center where you can pretend to be a dentist. personally, i liked the giant bubble and the art room. penny did paint for a short while in the art studio but even the tables and stools were made for older children. she liked the interactive floor, glow sticks (they have these at other kids’ museums), and the musical instruments the best. i was debating whether we should have penny’s birthday at kid city or imagine nation but we decided on kid city after our visit to imagine nation that day.

img_5241

air blowing up a balloon

img_5249

img_5316

pushing the table so the marker can make lines

img_5247img_5253img_5255img_5256img_5257

img_5258

interactive floor

img_5260

img_5272

she liked the magnatiles and especially the color-changing table

img_5262img_5264img_5265

img_5314img_5267img_5268

img_5269

she likes playing with different musical instruments at home so she enjoyed herself

img_5270img_5274

img_5273

squashing aliens

img_5276

not a fan of the sportscenter broadcasting station

img_5277

the water was too cold for her liking

img_5279

giant bubble maker

img_5280img_5281img_5283img_5284

img_5285

check out the snake skin

img_5315

img_5287

she just wanted to play with the markers

img_5289img_5291img_5293

img_5294

painting buddies

img_5292

i made snowflakes as the duo painted

img_5297img_5298img_5299img_5300img_5301img_5302img_5304img_5313

it’s fascinating to see penny develop an interest in toys that she had not cared for in past months. now that she’s older, she likes to play with the pegs and peg board that i had gotten for her back when she was 16 months. when i had first introduced them to her, she only liked the place the pegs upside down and put them in cups. now she actually puts them on the board and also stacks them on top of each other.

one of our neighbors works for lego and she gave penny a minnie mouse duplo set this past summer. all penny liked to do was dump out the pieces and methodically put each one back in the box. she would point at the airplane and say “bi” (short for “bihenggi”, airplane in korean) but was still too young then to really build with them. our friends, katie and mike, gave penny a farm duplo set as a baptism gift and she plays with it all the time! she particularly likes the people that came with the set – calling the boy “dad” and the girl “grandma.”

penny still loves cars and trucks, and she has a bunch of them. we don’t really get her cars that are pink and “girly”  because we don’t want to pigeonhole her into the category where girls only like/have things that are pink and purple. penny has a good amount of pink clothes but so much more are gray and navy. personally, i like those colors better because they match with other items of clothing.

as a former teacher, i figure it’s never too early to introduce the alphabet. we read books about letters and numbers, but i also wanted penny to be able to play with magnet letters. after much research, i settled on a jug of roscoe learning magnetic letters. i wanted large, foam letters and these have magnets on the entire backside. plus, they have multiple letters for each one so you can actually spells words and make sentences. the softer colors were also appealing to me. i’m not sure if this company makes numbers but i hope they do.

we are continually encouraging penny to be aware of her body and her bowel movements. she has been telling us “응가” (eung-gah, kind of like a grunt in korean when kids poop) when she has to poop but will refuse to sit on the potty. the past few days we’ve caught her mid-poop so took off her diaper/pull-up and sat her on the potty. she resisted but i sang a song and the last bit made it into the potty. when dennis took care of penny in the morning yesterday he was able to have her go in the potty as well. it takes a lot of praise, patience, and encouragement.

hurray to finally updating another blog post. i started this last night but was able to finish it this morning because grandma so is over this morning to help out with penny. *thankful*

penny’s selfies

penny having fun with daddy’s 27-year-old cray pas crayons from korea!

thanksgiving & birthday weekend

[12:30pm] i love my birthday because it usually falls around thanksgiving weekend so the festive mood from the holiday continues on to my birthday. sometimes my birthday falls on thanksgiving day which makes it even more special.

this year, thanksgiving got off to a rocky start. i got into a car accident on wednesday evening. i was craving pasta so i ordered dinner for the family (including in-laws) from cheesecake factory and i drove by myself to pick it up. i wanted to drive because i looked forward to the quiet time i could get in the car. dennis was working until 10 that evening so i decided to drop off food for him.

what should have been a half hour ride turned into an hour because of the holiday traffic. i don’t think it would’ve been that bad had there not been two accidents on the highway. at one point, three out of four lanes were closed which caused much of the delay. by the time i picked up the food and was on my way to dennis’ pharmacy it was already 5:30. i texted my mil to tell her to feed penny whatever food we had at home for now since i was going to be late.

as i drove down the local roads of west hartford i felt annoyed that i was running behind because of the accidents on the highway. i noticed a man pushing a stroller up his front walk, and then i looked forward just in time to see a minivan had stopped in front of me. i cursed and slammed on the brakes, but i plowed into the car anyway. the man with the stroller whipped around at the noise of the impact but i was busy trying to salvage the containers of pasta that had flown out of the bag. thankfully no food had spilled onto the car floor but the damage was done to my car. the grill was snapped in half and broken bits were scattered everywhere.

i knew it was my fault and i braced myself for the other driver’s reaction. a young woman stepped out and walked over to my car. then she asked worriedly, “are you okay?” i hadn’t been crying before because i was in shock but her kindness and genuine concern started a waterfall of tears. i kept blubbering on about how i was sorry and that i’ve been so tired lately that i zoned out. she kept reassuring me that as long as we were both okay, that it was fine.

it was only after i stepped out to inspect the damage to both cars and took photos with my iphone that i realized i was nearly 5 months pregnant! i wasn’t in any physical pain and i wasn’t going fast enough for the air bags to be deployed, but i was still concerned for the baby and i shared this with the other woman. she was troubled by it and even told the police officer that had arrived to report the accident.

it took quite a while for the officer to do the paperwork, and while the woman and i stood out in the cold we talked about where we are from (she’s originally from west hartford but has been living in baltimore) and what our plans had been that evening. i told her how my family had recently visited maryland to visit my brother-in-law and his wife. i even recommended the restaurant founding farmers to her. clearly, it isn’t ever ideal to get into a car accident but i am so grateful that the other person involved had been so understanding and gracious. she was on her way to meet a friend for dinner and i had ruined those plans, but she was still so positive about everything. she explained that she had been in my shoes a few months ago and knew what it was like to have to worry about dealing with insurance and the other driver. i had been in accidents where the other person was at fault and though i certainly never screamed or lost my temper, i don’t think i was really that understanding.

after almost an hour after the collision, i continued on to dennis’ work. he was only a half mile away! he knew what had happened because during all of the chaos i had called him to let him know. after talking to him and dropping off the food i was finally on my way home where the entire family – including crystal and dan – greeted me anxiously. i was fine, i was fine, thank the lord; just relieved to be home with the family.

img_3258

thanksgiving day was spent cooking all day but it was worth it. initially we had planned on driving up to massachusetts to celebrate with my side of the family since we had not been able to do that last year. however, we reconsidered after thinking of the traffic (two years ago, it took us 3 hours to arrive at my cousin’s house) and how we would only spend two hours there and then have to drive back again for penny’s bedtime.

it was eight of us including penny and yuri – a relaxing evening in the comforts of our own home. i tried to be festive by making a thanksgiving banner and hanging up fall-themed artwork created by penny. although the food was delicious – crystal contributed by making mac & cheese and helping me with other tasks like flower arranging – it was really time spent with the family that i appreciated. we never get to see crystal and dan this often and it was great being able to see them in maryland and then here for three days the week after. we will see them next at our pastor’s wedding in february.

img_3248img_3257

img_3256

the boys playing mortal combat x

img_3255

the spread!

img_3254img_3253

img_3252

homemade pumpkin cheesecake pie

img_3251

macarons and mini cupcakes from baked by melissa

img_3250

praying for the meal

img_3249

we got chicken instead of turkey

img_3204

penny dancing while everyone cheers – this picture was from two days before thanksgiving

img_3202

having fun playing ping pong

img_3198

we went to a tree farm on saturday morning to get our christmas tree. it was easier when penny was 6 months old which is when we got our tree last year! since penny is mobile, she just wanted to walk and do her own thing. it took an hour to get a tree! i spent most of the time chasing penny and reining her in while dennis searched for a tree and cut it down. i did choose the final tree though!

img_3585img_3584img_3583img_3582img_3581

img_3609img_3610

my birthday celebration on saturday evening was relatively low-key with dinner with close friends at a burger joint. i forgot to take a group photo  😦 alice, john, and grace couldn’t make it to the games portion of the night but most of us moved on to dave and buster’s. i had forgotten how fun that place can be although saturday nights are not the best day to go since there can be a wait for certain games. i even played pump (korean version of ddr) with my pregnant belly and all. i used to play with my brother when he was younger – he is like a pro – so i can dance to some of the harder modes but boy was i out of breath at the end!

img_3593

my sister brought a lovely assortment of cupcakes from boston

img_3594

raspberry mousse birthday cake from giuseppe’s in south windsor

img_3595

img_3605img_3606img_3589img_3590img_3592

img_3591

my brother (james) compared to my sister (jen)

img_3588

the highlight of that evening was definitely my sister and brother driving down from boston to spend the night. my brother actually lives in la now but flew home for thanksgiving weekend. it had been quite some time since the three of us had done something together so i was extremely happy that they had both made it. plus, they were able to see how much penny had grown and spent time with her as well.

20161126_174817

img_3587

sunday morning before church – penny liked the small basketball we got for her from d & b’s

img_3586

penny likes watching us cook

on my actual birthday, i was scheduled for a 10am ultrasound and anatomy scan. dennis and i found out we are having a B O Y! the technician asked us if we wanted to know and dennis blurted out that he could see the penis so there was no denying it! thanks to genie, we had decided on popping a balloon filled with appropriately-colored confetti to reveal the sex. i even brought scissors, tissue paper and ziploc bags with me so i could continue cutting the confetti. of course i stopped cutting pink ones after we found out the results. by the way, i had done research about the confetti-balloon reveal and many women recommended cutting up confetti using tissue paper because it’s light enough that it’ll float nicely for the photos. the store-bought ones are too heavy and would probably just fall instead of flying around for a greater effect.

after the appointment we stopped by party city and the employees stuffed two black 24-inch balloons with sky blue and royal blue confetti; then they filled them with helium. we also got a regular white balloon for penny to play with. when we arrived home, penny was napping and we ate lunch with my mil. we were going to do the reveal after penny woke up so mil went home for a few hours and we rested. a little before 3pm, both parents came over and we went onto the field to take a the first round of photos. we filled two balloons in case the first photo shoot didn’t come out well. we also had mil practice taking pictures by holding down the shutter button on the iphone so she could take consecutive pictures rapidly.

the pictures on the field came out nice enough – especially our reactions – but it was too bright so the color of the confetti was difficult to see. we changed locations to our driveway where the shade and the white doors of the garage made for better photos. i ended up holding penny because it’s difficult to get a toddler to participate in photo shoots, really.

fullsizerender

the photo collage we used for our announcement

img_3487img_3488img_3485img_3481

we really would not have minded if we were going to have another girl but having a boy is wonderful too! so many of our friends and family commented that we are lucky to have one of each – which i suppose we are – but we all know health is #1. when i met with my ob after the ultrasound she said everything looked great which is not something she gets to say often (usually only once a day). she said nowadays that any little thing can be considered a “high-risk pregnancy” so to give us good news was great for her as well.

that evening, dennis and i enjoyed a quiet dinner at market grille. we ordered a bunch of apps from the happy hour menu and i indulged in a blackberry-pomegranate-ginger soda. we had planned on going to the movies afterwards to watch arrival but we were both tired (and wanted to watch the missed episode of the walking dead) and felt bad that we would be coming home late since mil was watching penny as usual. we ended up stopping by dave & buster’s to play a few games ( we ended up with over 1,000 tickets) and kept the tickets so we can save up to get a really good prize for penny. 🙂

img_3600

sorry for the terrible quality – snapchat photo

img_3599img_3598img_3597img_3596

it’s no wonder after that eventful week that i’ve been tired… tired enough where i can actually fall asleep during penny’s nap like i did yesterday. i thought i would close my eyes for a half hour and i ended up falling asleep for an hour! i sat upright immediately after realizing it was 3:30 and penny was still sleeping (almost 3 hours!) so i got up to wake her. let’s see if i can squeeze in some shut-eye now…

img_3384

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

img_2642

she loved watching the planes


img_2650

goodbye, connecticut!

img_2651img_2659

img_2655img_2657img_2649

img_2716

on our way to the hotel!

be with me, a playseum in bethesda

img_2662img_2663img_2664img_2666img_2667img_2668img_2669img_2670img_2671img_2673

fullsizerender

touching various herbs and spices at the chinese market

img_2675img_2676img_2677img_2678img_2679

img_2680

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


img_2682

a tin box featuring a young queen elizabeth II

img_2683img_2703img_2688img_2687img_2685img_2684img_2683img_2700img_2699img_2697

img_2689

princess room

img_2694img_2692img_2690

dinner & after-hours:

img_2704

dinner at a nearby korean restaurant

img_2705

img_2706

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


img_2707

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

img_2712

playing basketball at the hotel after breakfast

img_2713img_2711img_2710

img_2715

stuffed french toast at founding farmers

port discovery children’s museum in baltimore

img_2717img_2718

img_2719

she liked climbing on top of the drum


img_2721

toddler room

img_2722img_2726img_2727

img_2728

interactive floor

img_2730img_2731img_2734

img_2737

she enjoyed cooking at the diner

img_2738img_2739img_2740img_2741

img_2744

she loves cars and trucks


img_2747

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

img_2748

img_2750

souvenir: fire engine

img_2752

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.

img_2852

img_2888

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.

img_3030

right when we parked we saw two squirrels fighting


img_3029

looking at the zebras in the way back

img_2904

img_3011

we were very excited to see the pandas!

img_3028

img_3026

this panda is getting treats out of the ball

img_3025img_3024img_3023

img_3008

img_3021

family of wild deer making their way through the grounds


img_3020

turtles and lemurs (not pictured)


img_3019

tiger


img_3018

casually observing the llamas

img_3017

img_3016

cute goats perched on stumps

img_3015img_3014img_3013

img_3012

penny was having a meltdown here


img_3010

much-needed family photo

img_3009img_3007img_3006img_3005img_2987img_2954img_2930img_2918img_2912img_2894

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!

fullsizerenderimg_3041img_3039img_3037img_3035

img_3042

dennis and dan walking up the rubber hill

img_3084

img_3050

bedtime routine


img_3053

reading with uncle dan

img_3054

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!

the remedy

cold season has arrived. penny had two canceled play dates in the past two weeks due to her friends’ illnesses. i tried in vain to prevent penny from getting sick but you can only do so much. after 9 boogie-filled days, penny seems to have fully recovered.

it all began early monday morning (10/17) when i woke up to penny coughing. i saw that she had a runny nose and dennis suggested that was most likely causing her to cough. penny hardly coughed when she was awake; it was only when she was lying down. thankfully, she didn’t have a fever, was in good spirits for the most part, and still had a decent appetite. initially i was worried she had developed allergies so i cleaned, dusted, and aired out her room. we also washed her mattress cover, sleep sack, lovey, and blanket.

the coughing prevented penny from having a good nap and a well-rested night’s sleep for the next three days. usually 2.5~3 hours, she would wake up after an hour and a half (or less) because of coughing. during the night, she would sit up in bed for a little bit and look around, and try to go back to sleep.

the first thing i tried to help penny be more comfortable was the nose frida. we actually had only ever used this once before – when she was sick around her first birthday. we, and she, were lucky enough that she hadn’t been sick before that. let me tell you, that thing works! at first, she laughed when i used it because it tickled but she quickly grew to hate it. so much so that she would scream, flail, and cry when i tried to use it. i had to sneak up on her while she was playing to try to quickly suction mucus out of her nose. and, of course, her crying caused more mucus to collect in her nose. still, it was very effective at getting the mucus out since babies and young toddlers don’t know how to blow their nose.

nosefrida-travel-case-4

i honestly think she could have recovered sooner had she not been drinking milk. for those of you that have read my previous entries, i’m not a fan of cow milk. at first we gave penny hemp milk but when it proved to be costly i reluctantly gave penny some cow milk. i also purchased a brand of milk called ripple that is plant-based and available only at target (from what i saw). she never had a preference for a certain milk until i tried giving her ripple when she was sick. she noticed that it didn’t taste the same as whole milk and threw her cup in disgust! since she wanted milk, i had no choice but to continue giving her cow milk although i still limit it to 16 oz. a day. dairy causes mucus membranes to swell so it’s best to avoid it if you’re sick, but i can’t communicate all that to my daughter -_-

after the nose frida, i bought a vicks for babies plug-in vaporizer. i had read great reviews about it online on how babies and children slept well without coughing. in addition, i elevated one side of her mattress by rolling up 3 baby blankets underneath the mattress. i saw some improvement but penny’s cough was still affecting her sleep. next, dennis purchased a cool mist humidifier and we turned it on all night along with the plug-in vaporizer (and keeping the mattress elevated).

e4a2e87fb590d98cd765b0af10d8e1d1

that seemed to have helped even more, but it wasn’t until we applied baby chest rub to her feet that we noticed a drastic change! penny ended up sleeping her usual 2.5~3 hours for her nap and had uninterrupted night sleep – no coughing! again, i had read rave reviews but was still skeptical on how well it would work. i don’t know why but applying the chest rub to babies’ feet and putting socks over them truly works. for good measure, i also rubbed a little on her chest for nighttime.

fullsizerender

penny’s nose was still dripping like a faucet during the day and going outside made it worse (we had to take yuri out though). this morning, she woke up without a runny nose and we haven’t had to wipe her nose all day. fingers crossed she’s back to 100%!

next time your little one has a cold, try all of the above remedies but definitely have baby chest rub on hand. we used the walgreens brand but any brand will do, like the vicks for babies. do not use the adult vicks on babies as the scent is too harsh for them. i would also advise against using cold tablets and cough syrup even if they are for babies. there are just too many scary stories out there about babies dying due to an accidental overdose (such as from benedryl). plus, there are limited studies on how effective certain cough syrups like zarbee’s really is. science based magazine states zarbee’s is more or less “effectively diluted honey.” it might even be more beneficial to give your child actual honey (only give honey to babies over 12 months old) to coat the throat instead of using “placebo or no treatment.”

it’s still only october so we have a long winter ahead of us, but i hope that is the last illness penny will have this season. everyone’s miserable when a baby is sick especially the little one since she can’t communicate her discomfort. penny will get her flu shot along with another round of vaccines at her 18-month checkup next month so hopefully those help her to stay healthy this winter.

this reminds me: i need to get my flu shot soon too especially since i’m pregnant. i’m halfway through 15 weeks and for the past few days i’ve been feeling flutters. i felt penny move for the first time at 16 weeks so i can distinguish between gas and a baby’s movements (i would hope).i particularly feel the baby moving more when i’m lying down. (penny, too, was always more active when i was still because she was lulled to sleep when i walked around.)

this is getting more and more real every day! in less than a month we will also find out if we are having a boy or a girl, and then we can actually start planning for the baby’s arrival. we do want to paint the baby’s room and buy items based on the baby’s sex. once my belly actually starts getting bigger and i feel actual kicks, i will actually feel pregnant too. i’ve gained 2.2 pounds so far and i still fit into all of my skinny jeans.. and i hope i can still wear regular clothes for as long as i can!

penny staying busy at her toddler sense class

img_2084img_2085img_2087img_2089

we also visit different libraries (3 towns so far) to check out the children’s room.

lately it’s been difficult to coax penny into a stroller: why ride when you can walk, right? it’s not easy to walk the dog if penny isn’t in a stroller when i’m by myself so i have to bribe her with crackers lately… or just place her in the seat while she’s crying.

after a nice stroller ride, i “rewarded” penny by letting her walk around our yard while yuri watched from the foyer.

img_2128img_2121img_2125img_2119

some indoor activities penny enjoys are coloring and playing with stickers. she particularly likes putting stickers on my face and laughing. during a recent trip to a toy store in west hartford, i got the idea of buying reusable stickers. they’re a hit! she likes placing them on the different scenic backgrounds that the stickers came with.

img_2146img_2147

she’s actually quite good with not putting objects in her mouth.. she never really has! if she got curious and would try, one “no” would suffice. penny uses crayons and markers correctly which is why we weren’t too worried about her using markers.

as it gets colder and darker, i’m trying to find more activities to keep penny preoccupied indoors. i’ll have to think of other creative ways for penny to be engaged. i’ll be sure to share those – successful or not – in future posts.

sahm

IMG_0548on august 3rd, 2016, i sent my letter of resignation to middletown public schools. walking away from my career wasn’t something i ever envisioned. but after penny was born, everything changed. i dreaded returning to work and extended my leave to half a year and then eventually the entire school year. when everyone inquired about me returning for the 2016-2017, i responded that, indeed, i was though i did share my worries about returning to work. i really wasn’t so much concerned about penny because she has been on a great schedule for a while now and is used to being with her grandparents.

i had come to the realization that i didn’t care so much for my job anymore. when your passion for anything dies, you can either try to get it back or move on. back in march, the city i worked in notified 16 other teachers and me that we would be let go due to budget cuts. due to initial shock, i cried and was understandably distraught over the situation. but, the more i thought about it, i realized it was a blessing in disguise: i had secretly been wanting to stay at home and now i really could!

but then a wrench got thrown in the works because a few months later, i was notified that all  the teachers would be rehired. i felt pressure from myself, and others, that i should return, so i signed the contract on june 8th. since then, i had been dreading the start of the school year: thinking about buying school supplies, cleaning and setting up the classroom, organizing and creating lesson plans, and so much more.

then, out of the blue, dennis said if i really wanted to stay home, i should. i was so ecstatic and relieved to have that support from him that i broke down in tears. why did i want to leave my job so badly? well, here’s a little bit of my work background.

even though i had been a classroom teacher for one year, i had been in the education field for a decade. as an undergraduate, i worked part-time (full-time during the summer) at a child care center for almost four years. then, i did student teaching and was a substitute teacher for a few districts. then, i moved to connecticut to become a building sub and would also later work as a long-term sub, interventionist, and finally obtained my own classroom. with each passing year, i became increasingly agitated and stressed over the escalating expectations of teachers. with all this accountability on making sure students achieve high scores on standardized tests, i slowly started to weary being a teacher but i kept on because i had been trying so long to be one.

after all that, one might think it’s such a waste to throw that all away but, to me, it’s entirely worth it to stay home with penny. it was a no-brainer for me anyway because i had steadily become more and more jaded with the education system over the years. teaching will always be there.. maybe in the future when penny (and her siblings) are all in school i’ll return; or maybe i’ll pursue a different career, but the truth of the matter is i can never experience being at home with penny again.

being at home is difficult too, of course. penny has been taking steps on her own for a few weeks now but just recently she has been walking more and more on her own. she has also transitioned to one nap so usually i spend this time cleaning up a little bit, but also trying to get some shut-eye myself because it’s tiring to chase her around and keep her preoccupied with constant activity. usually, i don’t fall asleep but i do feel better after resting my eyes.

summer is my favorite season, and i was always mournful when it ended because that meant the start of the school year. now i can completely enjoy the fall season because i don’t have to stress about being miserable at work. i am so psyched for all of the fall activities coming up: apple picking, pumpkin picking, hay rides, cider doughnuts and juice, fairs and festivals, halloween, enjoying the foliage, jumping in leaf piles to name a few!