go time…?

39w2d. it’s 10:40pm and my mil just led us in a group prayer because, after talking to my ob on the phone an hour ago, it seems like i’m in the early stages of labor. this morning at my 39-week appointment my ob asked if i would like for her to strip my membranes and i said, “yes.”

for those that don’t know, it sounds like a painful process but the procedure is more uncomfortable than agonizing. the ob swipes a finger across the lining of the amniotic sac to separate it from the uterus. this sets off the release of prostaglandin hormones that can trigger contractions. 50% of  women tend to go into labor within the next 24-48 hours.

for the rest of the day, i experienced spotting and cramping – normal after the procedure – but starting around 7pm i noticed my back start to ache and then go away. after we put penny to bed i noticed a pattern and then started timing them around 8:30pm. i’m pretty sure they are contractions because the pain radiates in my lower back area. they have been lasting for around a minute and the time between the contractions are anywhere between 5-8 minutes.

i finally called the ob around 9:30pm and she confirmed that it seems like i’m in the early stages of labor. her advice was to wait until the contractions get to a point where i have to pause and breathe through them. they’re uncomfortable, and i’m grimacing, but they’re not really preventing me from resuming my activities. i was folding laundry and timing them at the same time. currently i’m in bed, hoping to get some shut-eye before we possibly have to go in later tonight or tomorrow morning.

when i thought about the baby possibly arriving tomorrow, my eyes welled up with tears thinking about penny. i was hoping to see her in the morning (maybe i will) and be able to kiss and hug her goodbye if i had to go to the hospital. i know she will visit me at the hospital and see me then but my wish was to hold her for one last moment before she loses the status of being an only child.

if anything, i’m glad dennis had today off and it was a gorgeous day to boot. we spent time outdoors this morning at the playground near our neighborhood. and after penny’s nap we went to the mall with my in-laws and then ate dinner at seoul bbq. penny absolutely loves korean food – it’s basically the only thing she’ll eat these days. she did very well sitting in the booster seat and eating her meal… but most of all, i really cherished the “quiet time” we all had together before the baby arrives. perhaps it was the last supper. 🙂

i’m not sure when i’ll be able to update my blog again but if the baby doesn’t arrive within the next few days, there could be another entry sooner rather than later.

let’s see what’s in store!

palm sunday

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getting ready to leave for church

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having fun while waiting for the other children to arrive

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using a mouse as a phone

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snacking on blackberries while playing on the keyboard

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she loved having esther fan her!

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outdoor shopping on palm sunday

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happy holidays

i had my 24-week checkup this morning. it was brief and everything went well. i’ve been keeping track of my weight gain like i did for penny, and i’ve gained 6.3 lb. so far. at this point with penny, i had gained 10.7 lb. and 18 lb. overall, right up until penny was born. i thought i would gain more during my second pregnancy but it’s not over yet so we will see how big this little boy grows.

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the ob measured my fundus (part of the uterus) to determine growth rate. it measured at 23cm which is fine because i’m at week 24. you want the measurements to be around the same as the number of weeks you’re pregnant, so i’m about a week behind which is still great. i have a long torso so i know the baby has a lot of room in there. this is also the reason why i haven’t shown until about a few weeks ago.

my next appointment will be the 28-week checkup where i have to take a glucose test to check for gestational diabetes. i’m not worried about this one at all since my blood pressure is excellent and my weight gain has been minimal. plus, i was fine with penny. the only annoying thing is drinking this sugary orange drink in under 5 minutes.

with that said, these weeks are flying by; much more faster than when i was pregnant with penny. my friend and neighbor, yan, is expecting her second (also a boy!) on january 12th but she said she is already 4cm dilated so the baby could come any day now. it’s exciting and comforting to be going through my second pregnancy with friends who are also expecting their second around the same time. now we have to learn how to adjust to taking care of a newborn while also having a rambunctious toddler around. i’m eager to receive valuable tips from friends that are due before me, but i’m also grateful knowing that i will have lots of help from family members as well.

it was a busy christmas this year: we traveled to boston to celebrate with my family and then came back christmas eve so we could go to church on christmas morning. penny got baptized along with our friends’ son, ethan, and then we opened gifts in the early evening with dennis’ parents.

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homemade meal upon our arrival!

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penny’s baptism

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opening gifts

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she also received another baby doll for christmas (from my mom). this one i picked out: baby says “mama” when you squeeze her hand and she sucks on the magnetic pacifier when you place it on her mouth. penny knows how to do both.

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i forgot i bought her two wooden puzzles and a pizza kit so i gave them to her the following day

to top it off, i won fantasy football this year! i limped into the playoffs as the #8 seed (out of 12) and basically had no hope of even advancing into the next round. my first and second picks this year were rob gronkowski and dez bryant – both were huge disappointments this year although dez sealed the win for me in the end with a great game. most of my lineup were waiver wire pickups as well so it was amazing how i came back to win it all. this is my first victory after having been a runner-up a few times (most recently, last year) so i feel even more triumphant.

it has been hard to keep track of all the of the things penny has been learning because it’s at such a faster pace now. she’s saying more and more words. a few weeks ago she had added 뽀뽀 (kiss), 멍멍 (puppy), ball, wow, and 이모 (aunt) to her vocabulary, and most recently she has added “no more”, “one more”, “all done” (she only used to gesture), and 지지 (dirty). she is also sorting her colors by putting matching colors together. as one of her christmas gifts, i got her do-a-dot markers and she likes to screw the caps back on to the markers by herself. she correctly places the matching colored cap on the marker and twists it on! during bath time, she also places the colorful dolphin toys into their matching colored tubes.

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new straw cup

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braving the cold to get some fresh air!

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on my way home from my ob appointment today, a house had free toys set out on the curb so i took a coffee maker and this big rig auto transport.

penny’s top molars have broken through! i only noticed them a few days ago when i was changing her diaper and she was yelling/talking. currently she has 5 teeth but her top lateral incisors have been trying to poke their way through for almost a month now! she is a very slow teether. xD at 19 months it looks like she will soon have 9 teeth; but it seems that she’ll be closer to 20 months by the time they fully come in.

i can’t believe it’ll already be 2017 (year of the rooster) in a few short days. i’m excited to see what the new year brings (besides a baby boy!

  • i plan on adding more photos (52 total!) little by little. i just really want to post this entry before penny’s nap is up and the pictures take forever!

 

diy cake smash photo shoot

when you have a baby, the costs keep adding up. there are the necessary everyday items like diapers, but then there are also optional luxuries such as having professional photos done for your child. like many parents, we opted to do the newborn photo shoot because 1) we wanted high-quality images of penny, and 2) we didn’t mind splurging for our first child. (i’d like to think we’d be as generous with our subsequent children.)

dennis and i didn’t truly appreciate the work that photographers go through for the newborn photo shoot until we were at the studio. i mean, how hard could it be taking pictures of a sleeping newborn? thing is, newborns don’t sleep all the time and they have to be asleep for certain poses. our photographer cranked the heat up in the studio and was constantly feeding penny so she’d be sleepy and full. also, babies are diaperless during these photos so you can imagine what a lot of milk and no diapers can do during picture time!

as much as we love the newborn photos and now know how much work goes into baby photo shoots, we still couldn’t justify paying upwards of $700+ for the cake smash session. a baby’s first birthday is a significant occasion in general but in the korean culture, it is a huge deal. with the big guest list, traditional tie-ins such as the doljabi and hanbok, entertainment for the younger crowd, favors, and food the final total can go into the thousands, sometimes tens of thousands (eek!) in the end, we asked our friend, john, who has a really nice canon to take family photos and pictures of penny for her cake smash. that left dennis and i to arrange the “home studio.”

we chose the basement aka penny’s playroom for the space because it’s spacious and has a lot of natural light. fyi, natural light is your best friend. it’s okay to use both natural and artificial light but, if possible, you want to take photos near big picture windows to ensure the photos come out their absolute best. we chose to have penny’s photo session take place around 3:30pm (after her last nap so she has a long window of awake time). we also decided to use the wall facing the windows for optimal light since the sun sets in that direction.

word of advice: have, at least, one other person present during the photo shoot. i recommend two people though. while the photographer (could be you) is taking pictures of the baby, there needs to be someone distracting the baby by making noises and trying to make them smile and face the camera. also, when you’re doing multiple outfit changes it helps to have extra hands to do the job super quick. while john took the photos, his wife, alice, helped set up the different backdrops. remember: your baby will get agitated sooner or later so you have to make sure you allow plenty of time, but also give yourselves a break! we stopped for a short while so penny could have some milk – don’t forget, they’ll be hungry so have snacks and milk ready!

also, the photo shoot could take more than one day. i ended up taking pictures of penny with my iphone 6 a few days later so i could have more pictures of her, smiling. during the original photo shoot whenever dennis and i made noises for her to smile, she’d end up looking at us. thankfully, dennis’ mom came over to help with wardrobe changes and using props to get penny’s attention. these pictures turned out great too! i was worried about the quality of the iphone photos but i think the natural light helped immensely. all of the photos of her smiling were taken with my iphone!

okay, onto to the preparation of the home studio. i did a lot of research and saw that people purchased a big roll of bulletin board paper or craft paper for the backdrop. some used white (blank canvas and makes the photos super bright) while others opted for colored backgrounds. dennis and i went to jo-ann fabrics to see what we could find and we were pumped to see that they had a faux wood bulletin board paper! the ones that some people were using were 52 inches wide and ours was 48. just a few inches short but the width does make a difference because it determines how close/far you can take your pictures since you don’t want the wall to show. try to make sure you can find a width that’s 48 inches or more.

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make sure you tape the backdrop up high and without cutting it, roll it out so the floor is covered too.

i made the ‘one’ banner and hung it low so it would show in the picture. have a few decorations and/or banners on hand so you can have a variety of “looks.” i saved a fringe banner from last year’s baby shower, made the ‘one’ banner, bought balloons, and saved paper fans from my baby shower and penny’s 100th day celebration.

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how it looks close-up

 

for the smash cake, i decided to make a giant cupcake. i purchased a giant cupcake pan from amazon and it’s around $15.

i referred to this blog post, and it was really helpful. the only thing i have to gripe about is how much cake batter was left over. the ingredients ask for 2 boxes of yellow cake mix and you end up using about half, maybe a little more. i suppose you could just make more cake or cupcakes with it but after spending all morning making and prepping the smash cake i didn’t even want to eat the remnants.

anyway, if you don’t feel like opening up another link i’ll post the ingredients here:

ingredients and supplies

  • 2 Boxes of Yellow Cake Mix
  • 6 Eggs
  • 1 Package Jello-O Vanilla Pudding Mix
  • 1 c. oil
  • 2 c. water
  • giant cupcake mold
  • cooking spray
  • glass bowl
  • hand mixer
  • 1 lb. candy melts
  • long knife
  • 2 cans of frosting or homemade buttercream frosting (i opted to make frosting – recipe in included in post.)
  • *food coloring (only if you’re making the frosting – i used wilton)

i poured 2.5 cups of batter in the cone portion (left side) and 3.5 cups in the bottom part of the cupcake (right side).

when it’s done, let them cool in pan for 15 minutes and transfer over to a wire rack to cool completely.

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after they cool, level the raised parts of both the cone and the bottom portion of the cupcake. the bottom photo was taken before i did that. notice how the cone isn’t perfect? i used frosting later on to cover it up and faced that part away from the camera.

with the knife, you also want to slice off the ridges of the bottom part so that it fits into the candy mold later on. you will see what i’m talking about in the next picture.

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this candy mold for the bottom part of the cupcake is optional but it has a much better presentation than if the cupcake was just shown with the cake bottom.

the blog post says to put the candy melts (most of the bag) in a microwaveable bowl and melt the candy for 30 seconds in 3 intervals. i found that two times sufficed for me because the candy was too watery the third time around and wouldn’t coat the sides of the pan to create a thick shell.

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i purchased these from party city

after the candy is melted, pour it into the bottom part of the cupcake mold and make sure to coat the sides. if it looks too thin, you may need to harden the candy and try melting it again. i learned that the hard way. after refrigerating the shell for 40 minutes, i saw that it was way too thin to even take out of the mold so i had to scrape the shell off and redo it.

okay, so after the melted candy is in the mold put it in the fridge for, at least, 40 minutes so that it’s solid. then, turn the mold upside down and gently tap it… it should slide out easily!

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see how the candy walls are thick?

then, gently place the bottom part of the cupcake (with the ridges sliced off) into the mold. i had to keep taking the cupcake out to trim it even more because it was too big to fit into the mold. keep playing around with it.

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ta-da! it finally fit! see how much better the cupcake looks with a candy mold???

after i finished making the frosting, i put in one drop of the pink food coloring. the color i desired was a light pink so i wanted to start off slowly. be aware that food coloring can deepen over time so you want to start with one drop and then slowly add more. you can always make the frosting darker but you would need to add (and then make more) frosting to make it lighter. i only ended up using two drops!

here is the recipe for the frosting, borders & writing (if you’re into all that). i got it from my baking instructor.

icing

  • 1/2 c. crisco
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. vanilla
  • 4 tb. warm water
  • 1 lb. domino 10x confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tbs. corn starch

mix everything but sugar and corn starch.

add sugar slowly, and then corn starch. mix until smooth.

add food coloring drop by drop.

 

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IMG_6036and, viola! i took a cake decorating class at jo-ann fabrics a few years ago. sadly, i forget most of the techniques but the rosette is not hard to do at all. i just practiced a few of them on the plastic pad that i got with my decorating kit.

*note: if you want bigger rosettes, you want to use a bigger tip. mine took a while to do and the frosting was hard to squeeze out because i had used a lot of powdered sugar. more sugar, more stiffness.

please give yourself plenty of time to bake the cake, make the frosting, and set it up. ideally, it would be best to do the photo shoot in the afternoon so your child is well-rested and you have more time to get ready. dennis took care of penny in the morning but i still got up around 7am to prep and bake the cake. i was still working on it three hours later! i also didn’t put the frosting on until a half hour before the shoot, and we took pictures of it during penny’s nap.

it’s kind of sad to see your hard work get destroyed, but hey, it’s a cake smash! i admit, it was fun to see penny get mystified by the cake and then hesitantly touch it. she didn’t go all out as we had hoped but we still got some good pictures!

remember to have fun… and relax!

enjoy the pictures!

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life is good

my right arm is hovering over the keyboard as i type this entry because the stitches on my wrist prevent me from applying too much pressure on it.

on monday night, what was supposed to have been a relaxing and delicious family dinner turned out to be disastrous instead. as dennis grilled 삼겹살, or pork belly, in the sunroom and my in-laws were setting up the dinner table i went to get a small plate out of the cupboard to put the 쌈장, or bean paste spread, on. everything happened so quickly in the next few seconds that i’m not quite sure how it all went down. one minute i’m taking the plate out of the cupboard and then it broke in half – i think i banged it onto the open cupboard door and dropped it causing it to break. as the pieces fell, one half landed on my right wrist and sliced it, nicking an artery. i felt the plate hit my arm but didn’t think much of it until i bent down to pick up the pieces and saw blood gushing from my arm. there was so much blood and i was freaking out!

my in-laws saw and rushed over to help and the commotion drew dennis into the kitchen. he quickly applied pressure by wrapping two kitchen towels around my wrist. somehow, penny slept through all this and my in-laws stayed to watch penny and yuri while dennis took me to the er.

we were there for a few hours: questioning, cleaning, stitches, and withdrawing more blood. a student was stitching me up while a resident foresaw the procedure. both weren’t wearing masks because it wasn’t clear that i had nicked an artery until the student was about to finish stitching me up and nudged it. i wasn’t looking because i felt squeamish but dennis told me blood squirted up onto the girl’s face and some went in her mouth! blood also sprayed onto the resident’s coat. meanwhile, blood kept pouring out of my wrist and i was worried about losing a lot of blood, but i was told that it was fine because it stopped within a few minutes.

[warning: graphic photo ahead]

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it looks like a baby walker took a bite out of my arm

the nightmare continued because instead of being discharged after the stitches, i had to donate 4 vials of blood to get it checked out since some had gotten into the student’s mouth. more needles, more blood. the next day, i had to go to see a pcp to get my dressing changed and have it inspected. once again, i was questioned on how it happened and even as i explained it i knew how ridiculous it sounded. doubt flickered across the doctor’s face as he asked if i was having any stress in my life. i felt like i was lying even though i wasn’t! definitely a strange and uncomfortable situation… especially since life is so good right now.. and i want to live!! 🙂

thankfully, dennis worked the afternoon shifts the next two days so he took care of penny during the day and his mom came over to help until penny had gone to bed and we had eaten dinner. she even took work off yesterday to help! genie and olivia came over for a playdate – with coffee, doughnuts, and korean food – as well and i enjoyed our time with them.

it’s been a busy year already. the trip to dr was a welcome break and then we’ve had overnight visitors (my sister and friend, naomi). plus, my arm injury -_- and also my friend’s daughter’s first birthday party. many of us had babies last year so they’re all turning 1 this year!

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happy birthday, skylar!

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she is SO cute!

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dessert bar

to top it off, dennis and i have been invited to 8 weddings!! unfortunately, we’ll only be able to make it to about half because many fall on a saturday that dennis works and he’s using up all his vacation days for destination weddings and bachelor party getaways.

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genie helping us with the bedtime routine!

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early valentine’s gift from olivia 🙂

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naomi and jen came to visit and spent the night. genie also came over and we had fun eating pizza and catching up. (dennis watched basketball up in our bedroom.0

another thing that’s keeping us busy is penny getting ready to crawl. she’s been trying for the past couple of weeks and she’s SO CLOSE. she lifts up her bottom and tries to move but ends up pushing herself backward. sometimes she can get herself into the crawling position while sitting but she’s still trying to figure out how to get one of her legs out of the way. she also practices a lot in the crib because she’s been sleeping on her belly lately for naps and bedtime.

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she loves playing with the remote control even though we don’t let her watch tv

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she loves to blow raspberries!

penny has also been very vocal lately saying, “da da da”, “ba ba ba”, “na na na”, and “ma ma ma.” she also imitates our actions (i.e blowing air –> it comes out like a whistle sometimes). when she’s in a cooperative mood, she’ll also scrunch up her eyes when we say, “이쁜 눈”, or “pretty eyes.” as much as we can’t wait to see her crawling, it’s nice to have her immobile for the most part so we’re not busy chasing her around. we need to begin putting socket covers on the outlets because she’s getting more curious and touching those and the tv cable outlet.

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penny at the library

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it was this night that the accident occurred 😦

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the books we borrowed!

this is dennis’ long weekend – hurray! – and we plan on catching up on the walking dead. we only need to watch three more episodes and we’ll be all caught up (which is perfect since the season returns on 2/14). on sunday, we have a double date hangout with genie and ben.. without the babies!! we’ve been frantically thinking of what we could do but we couldn’t think of much except watch the superbowl (uninterested because the patriots are not in it), go to a paintbar, watch a movie, or go to the claypen (a pottery painting place). my injured arm really limits physical activities like bowling and dave & buster’s. 😦 either way, it’ll be nice to hang out with just adults.

it’s a snow day today. schools are closed throughout the state and in massachusetts too. this winter has been incredibly mild compared to last year. this is the first snow day! it doesn’t really matter to me since i’m home anyway, but i love snow… how pure and clean it makes everything look. maybe i’ll take penny out in it so she can marvel at it and let her touch it as well.

happy new year!

2 0 1 6.

a whole new year with penny. she’s growing up so, so quickly. her first birthday is in 4 months!

what?!? :O

the overzealous mom that i am, i started a pinterest board for her birthday when she was 3 months old adding ideas here and there… but now i really have to get the ball rolling. dennis and i settled on a theme – secret for now – and i need to start making decorations and deciding how i want to set everything up. my parents recently moved and generously offered us their home as the location. since the party will be held in boston it will be more convenient for my family and friends that live in mass to attend especially my 94-year-old grandmother who hasn’t been able to see penny in several months.

i’m hoping to work on the birthday projects little by little to ease the stress factor. *fingers crossed*

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korean tradition to eat ddeok-guk (떡국), or rice cake soup, for the new year

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she loves piggyback rides

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playing with her lion rattle

penny is continuing to sleep wonderfully on her own. she started leap #6 a few days ago so her naps have been back and forth from being short to long but she’s still doing great. (i.e no rocking and no going in to pop the pacifier back in her mouth.) sometimes she’ll play with the pacifier and fall asleep with it at her side.

the only thing that slightly worries us is her moving around in her crib. she isn’t crawling yet but she scoots on her back and often times spins 180 degrees so all we see is the back of her head on the baby monitor. she’s still in her merlin sleep suit which adds a little bit of weight so penny rolls onto her side and scoots around. she’ll kick the crib rails and play with the mesh bumpers then, eventually, fall asleep. i don’t know why but she also likes to sleep facing the crib’s sides. i’m not sure if it’s because she feels snug but i get worried that she’ll wake herself up because her head and feet are touching the rails. sometimes she does but she usually falls back asleep, thankfully.

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this is usually how she falls asleep nowadays

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how i found her after her nap

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look at her legs! she’s not sleeping here.. she fell asleep shortly afterwards

one of my next posts will be about homemade baby food and penny’s feeding schedule. she loves to eat solids now after having a rocky start. penny also can’t get enough of water. we limit her daily intake to 3 oz. and only during mealtimes to wash the food down, but she gets so excited when she sees her sippy cup! she picks up the cup and puts the spout in her mouth but can only drink it if it’s nearly full as she doesn’t yet know to tilt her head back to get the water to flow.

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practicing feeding herself yogurt

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yum!

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this sippy cup was $10 but totally worth it

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good eats, good sleep. these two things have contributed in my feeling much more energized and happy these days. what a great way to start off the new year!

 

 

vegas getaway

first of all, happy 1st birthday to avery!

i had the privilege of attending avery’s first birthday party yesterday in andover, massachusetts. initially, dennis and i were both going to go with penny but we knew it’d be easier if only one of us went sans baby. dennis elected to stay home and i brought my pump with me.

it was great seeing, and catching up with, old friends. i even kept my friend company while she pumped, haha. how things have changed.

the first birthday is a huge deal in korean culture. per tradition, the baby is also placed in front of a variety of objects that is supposed to predict their future: money or rice = wealth; pencil = artistic; book = scholar, etc.

avery chose money much to her mother’s dismay. (she was hoping avery would choose a pencil.) a lot of work goes into the first birthday especially with pinterest and social media putting the pressure on parents! i can’t wait to do penny’s first birthday. she will be 7 months on tuesday so it’s rapidly approaching!

back to vegas..our trip was a success! we had a relaxing, baby-free time with our friends and penny also did very well with my in-laws for four days.

although my mil texted a photo of penny along with reassuring words, i still worried during the entire flight. our flight departed at 2:10pm from hartford and flew nonstop to vegas. we landed at 4pm pst which meant it was 7pm back east. when i checked my phone, i saw that mil had texted saying penny went down for the night at 6:30pm. i felt a little better knowing penny slept at her usual time.

the biggest hassle was having to pump. i believe i pumped in six different locations. i also pumped twice on the flight to vegas and back home. we also carried my pump in dennis’ backpack and whenever it was time, i just took the bag and went to the nearest restroom. thankfully, hotel bathrooms are spacious and immaculate. i also made sure to pump in the handicapped stall so i could use the counter space or the baby changing table to set up my pump. honestly, it was inconvenient having to interrupt daily activities to pump; but i brought home over 100 oz which will be useful for when dennis and i go to punta cana in january!

be sure to request a fridge (free of charge) so you can keep the pumped milk cold. we also brought coolers and ice packs to keep the milk cold during the flight home.

i’ve also had a chronic cough since august (!) and my coughing fits have significantly decreased since coming home. maybe the dry desert air helped clear my passages. whatever the reason, i hope it’s permanent.

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flying over the rockies..?

we had a gorgeous view of the landscape just before making a descent to las vegas.

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aria

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i really liked the lovely christmas decorations at aria hotel. it was interesting to see various decorations at every hotel we visited such as caesars palace, the venetian, and bellagio. so much effort and money is put into the aesthetics. they truly were a visual feast.

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aria has a waterfall wall on one side of the building. water slowly trickles over the side and then a small gush of water cascades over the side in intermittent spurts.

the last time dennis and i went to vegas was two years ago for our bachelor/bachelorette party and we had stayed at the hard rock hotel. while nice, it wasn’t on the strip; this time we didn’t want to be too far from the action.

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the courtyard

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the weather was in the upper 60s to low 70s during our stay. the pool was heated but we didn’t go in. some of us did lounge on the chairs after breakfast to relax and get some sun.

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flaky almond croissant and croque monsieur sandwich from jean-philippe

we ate a lot of delicious food including a buffet dinner at bachannal, the #1 rated buffet joint in vegas, on the first night. i didn’t take a picture then because i was so intent on eating.. plus, i was falling asleep! i never got used to the time difference but i didn’t want to try because i knew it’d be tough when we returned home.

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pretty treats from jean-phillippe

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adorable cupcakes from bachannal

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on our way to bachannal

we walked around the strip and dined at bachannal the first night. we didn’t do too much but get settled in and rest up for the next three days.

this trip was much more different than two years ago. no clubs, no partying ’til dawn, and no crazy antics. after having a baby and being tired all the time, i just craved being able to sleep without having to worry about taking care of penny.

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the basics for a day walking around town

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visiting “paris”

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the girls before our dinner at javier’s

our group consisted of three couples. when we explored the sights, we all hung out together but we split up for certain activities – shopping for the ladies and gambling for the men. most meals we dined together as well especially dinner (and us girls wanted an excuse to dress up).

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we came to the venetian because it was kelly and mike’s first time in vegas, and kelly wanted to go on the gondola.

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we went on the giant ferris wheel that takes riders up 550 feet. it cost us $20 ($7 discount when purchased online) for a half hour ride. each pod fits about 40 people but there weren’t many people waiting to go on when we went so we had the entire car to ourselves.

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our last night, we explored old vegas on fremont street. we stopped by the pawn shop that is featured on the show “pawn stars”and also the golden nugget where the guys gambled briefly.

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later that night, we ate dinner at lemongrass, a thai restaurant, and saw “zarkana”, a cirque du soleil show. it sounds lame but i fell asleep a few times! even though it was our last night in vegas i still couldn’t stay awake. i just wanted to stay in bed… it took enormous effort to crawl out and get ready for dinner.

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zarkana

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it was only a week ago that we departed for vegas but it seems like it was last year. we missed penny but it was so sublime being baby-free for four days. penny usually sleeps most of the night but we get woken up to her short cries and movements. after being woken up, it’s difficult for me to fall back asleep because i lay there wondering if she’s going to fully wake up or drift back into slumber.

we nearly forgot what it felt like doing things for us as almost every aspect of our daily routine is catered towards penny. we could wake up whenever we wanted, eat to our heart’s content, and be spontaneous.

i’m glad our trip was a success because now i don’t have to stress over leaving her again in a month. actually, i’m just worried about this upcoming week because my in-laws left today to go on a caribbean cruise for 10 days. this means i’ll be alone the majority of the time and it’s dennis’ long work week. my mom is supposed to come down for the day on wednesday and i have a play date on saturday so that helps but i so wish i had company all the time…

 

 

 

happy (?) 4 months

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i had a rough first month of motherhood – latching issues, nipple pain, and an oversupply of milk leading to mastitis. i kept hearing “it gets better” and “the first month is the hardest.” well, i’m four months in and i find that every month brings with it a new set of challenges.

penny is 4 months old as of yesterday. with each passing day, i still get amazed at how much she’s learning. for the past few weeks, penny has been laughing out loud, observing everything more intently, and looking around to see where dennis and i are. she has also been trying to roll from back to tummy but hasn’t been successful yet. she uses her legs – they are so strong! – to lift her back up and teeters back and forth before landing on her back again. i’ve been encouraging her by laying toys on either side for her to look at. i also slowly roll her onto her side so she can fall onto her stomach via gravity.

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a very happy baby

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staring at the mobile over her crib

penny has been going through the 4-month sleep regression for the past two weeks. it started off slowly with penny making random night wakings instead of the usual 2-3am. then, she started to wake up at midnight, then 11:30, and 9:30, and two nights ago at 6:40 – thirty minutes after she went down (kicking and screaming, of course). we knew she was exhausted because she had skipped her last nap and had been awake since 2:30pm. but, she was also hungry. for the past few weeks, penny’s been way too distracted during the daytime to nurse longer than 7 minutes so i’ve been having to bottle-feed and pump so she can look around and still get her daytime calories in. since i’m usually alone with her most of the day this is not an easy feat.

babies go through the so-called “sleep regression” around this time because their sleep cycle is beginning to mature and mimic that of an adult’s. babies have difficulty transitioning from one sleep cycle to the next and may wake up early from naps or repeatedly during the night because they don’t know how to fall back asleep on their own. so, they look for us to help them. monday night, at least, penny woke up because she was hungry and ended up falling asleep while dennis bottle-fed her. she slept for the next (almost) 9 hours and woke up at 3:30, nursed, fell asleep and woke up around 7. last night she woke up at 2:30 and i sat outside her door for 20 minutes to see if she would fall back asleep on her own. i ended up going in because it seemed like she was hungry (her cries were slowly increasing in volume and intensity.)

during this time, babies are also dropping their last nap – they go from 4 to 3. there still have been days where penny is taking 4 naps but she recently has been refusing the last one so we’ve been trying to put her to bed sooner than the usual 6:30-7pm if her last nap ends in early afternoon; otherwise her awake time from her last nap until bedtime would be 3+ hours = overtired, cranky baby. contrary to popular belief, babies won’t wake up sooner because you put them down sooner. sleep begets sleep so the more quality naps your baby takes, the better she’ll sleep at night. penny has been taking 1 short nap in the morning, then a long 2-3 hour nap, and then another short nap before bedtime.

with the sleep regression, we don’t know when she’ll wake up so i’m always fearfully staring at the monitor. she has been crying out and flopping her legs around at random times during the night but falls back asleep usually – whew. hoping this all subsides soon because then we have teething to look forward to.. AND she’s getting her 4-month vaccines on friday.. :*(

we’ve had a busy weekend. after meeting with my ob last week for an annual check-up, he advised me to go out more with and without penny so i can socialize and not go stir-crazy. i got really emotional when i shared what i’ve been feeling and being at home all day with a baby and a dog. i feel more and more confident the more i take penny out so i need to keep doing it.

friday night was a short date night. dennis and i put penny down for the night and went to go eat dinner at barcelona in west hartford. i was falling asleep on the way there! although penny was on my mind the entire time, i still enjoyed having a nice dinner with dennis. 🙂

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on saturday, i met up with genie and mouy and their little ones at the mall. we ended up buying baby clothes from babygap and not a thing for ourselves, but we are going to schedule a shopping trip for US soon.

as mouy said it

as mouy said it “we roll 3 strollers deep.”

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i brought penny to church again last sunday. i was a little late because i waited for penny to wake up from her nap. she was in a great mood until we got to church… for one thing, she needed a diaper change, and she was also hungry. but my mil was excited that she came and whisked her off to see her friends despite me warning her that penny would cry. and cry she did! it must’ve been overwhelming to have 15 (i kid you not) jibber-jabbering middle-aged women sticking their faces in the stroller to look at you.

my mil meant well: she was just excited.. but next time, feed and a diaper change first because after i did both penny was in a much better mood and even let others (some whom she’d met for the first time) hold her. this is AFTER i was forced to nurse her in a supply closet because all the rooms, and the nursery, were occupied…

about to leave for church

about to leave for church

ben & olivia

ben & olivia

my friends, the gardners, came to church too. there was bibimbap for lunch that day and olivia is looking at the omelets being made. 🙂

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we celebrated my mil’s birthday that evening at our house with korean food and a cake. dennis bought this hazelnut cake from a ukrainian bakery near where he works.

happy 65th birthday :)

happy 65th birthday 🙂

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playing with penny before her bedtime

playing with penny before her bedtime

before i go, here are some pictures from penny’s 4-month “photo shoot.” i have a lot more but let’s not get too carried away…

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dennis thinks it looks like she’s waving ^^

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she loves putting her fist in her mouth

awww

awww

yuri wanted to be with her

yuri wanted to be with her