days go by

they say it gets easier as the children grow older… and it’s true. ezra is already 8 months old and he rarely gives me trouble. penny, on the other hand… she has been having better days lately and it may be because she’s well-rested. penny had been going through a weird phase a few months ago where she began waking up between 5-5:30am every morning. sometimes she would yell out but other times she was mostly quiet as she tried to go back to sleep.

at first, i thought it was because she had to use the potty but she kept waking up early for about a month. i brought it up to her pediatrician at penny’s 2.5 year visit, and he advised that she only nap for 1.5 hours. while researching online for help with toddler sleep, i did find an article where the sleep expert, kim west aka the sleep lady said toddlers between 2-3 years old should only be napping for 1.5 hours to protect night sleep.

our pediatrician warned us that it would take a week or so for results to show. it was tough at first because penny would be cranky whenever we woke her up from her nap since she was trying to make up for the early morning wake-up. she still can be cranky when we wake her up but it has been working because she is now waking up between 6:30-7… or sometimes even after 7am! she went from sleeping 9-9.5 hours during that month of hell to 10.5-11 hours!

maple street playgroup

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painting a pouch

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recent snow day

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like penny, i transitioned ezra to two naps a little earlier than the norm. both kids were ready for two naps because their last nap (a catnap) made their bedtime too late and resulted in less nighttime sleep overall.  plus, their first two naps were long (1.5 hours each) and i would have to wake them up from each one! a 2-nap schedule means we can do more during the evening hours, too.

i’ve been brave lately by bringing both kids out and about. recently, the mom’s group had a chuck e. cheese playdate so i brought both kids after they woke up from their nap. (another great thing is that ezra’s 2nd nap is usually around the same time as penny’s nap so i get to rest, too!)

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Penny couldn’t figure out how to go up this. the platforms were too high for her.

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nice action shot

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i don’t think i had ever been to a chuck e. cheese, even as a child. i always hear horror stories such as the viral videos of parents having a full-on brawl while their children watch. i decided to give the place a shot since we had never been there. the one in manchester is actually the 2nd-largest in new england! what’s neat is that there is a separate toddler section so you don’t have to worry about your little ones getting overrun by the older kids.

the rides moved a little too slowly (even for toddlers) in my opinion, and the hot chocolate one was weird, but penny seemed to enjoy herself. her favorite ride was the train. the children also climbed up padded platforms to go into tunnels and slide down a spiral slide. penny really wanted to go down the slide but couldn’t figure out how to climb up the platforms. other kids were being creative by using the netting to hoist themselves up, but penny didn’t even want to try. i wish she wasn’t so tentative at trying new things, but pushing her will only make it worse.

i also brought the kids to a holiday party held at one of the mom’s homes. the location being only 7 minutes from our home definitely made it easier to attend. still, i was a half hour late because of penny, stalling. it’s so hard to get her to go anywhere right after her nap and she shuts down when we try to rush her. i had to entice her by saying there would be “new toys” at the place we were going to.

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K combing Ezra’s hair 🙂

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penny enjoyed playing with the new toys, and also sat down with some of the other children to snack on fruit and crackers. she actually does better with sitting and eating (and feeding herself) when we are out! it really does help when she is sitting with her peers to eat. learn by example, right? ezra, as usual, was his own chill self. one of the moms offered to watch him so i could eat, and another mom put his shoes on when we were getting ready to leave. it takes a village!

i’ve been saying this for quite some time but i need to start taking better care of myself. i used to skip lunch and try to nap but forgoing meals aren’t good for my body and overall energy either. in fact, i used to eat so little during the day that my stomach chronically hurt. when i did eat, i was never satisfied because i could have always eaten more but i didn’t because i wanted to try to get some shut-eye.

my stomach hasn’t been bothering me lately so i guess i’m on the right path. i just need to start working out again… especially since we are planning a tropical getaway in march. i like having four seasons and i like snow but winters drag on in new england.  for sure, by march, we will be sick of being cooped up indoors. (i’m already tired of it now.) although nervous to be traveling with two little ones, i also am excited to share this experience as a family of four.

i took both kids to the playgroup at our town’s library.

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the size of ezra’s hands are catching up to his big sister’s!

michaels sells art projects by creatology. some are 3+ but most are 6+. this christmas sign was 6+ but i purchased it anyway thinking penny could do it anyway. now i know why they upped the age for seemingly simple project: their attention span! it seemed easy enough to just to put stickers on the sign but penny got bored of putting the little stickers like the individual letters on it. she liked working on the penguin the best (the part we tackled first.)

 

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after 14 months without a haircut, i finally got one last week. it was a big change: i had over 12 inches chopped off! i feel so much lighter and don’t have to battle tangled hair on a daily basis. i did have hair remorse soon after the new ‘do was unveiled but it went

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night changes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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eating a cracker while posing

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setting the nail in place

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looking over the instructions

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first time using a hammer!

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people kept coming!

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finding a spot

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the finished masterpiece

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

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

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

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

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decorating mittens

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night changes

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

 

summer daze

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

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

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

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we took a family photo before we explored the park

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penny enjoyed the splash pad the most!

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

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ezra did not like the jet spray of cold water

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

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

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splash!

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waiting…

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walking the dinosaur trail

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dinosaur vertebrae

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ezra always has something in his mouth these days

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dinosaur maze

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

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my go-to: fried clam strips

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new england clam chowder and a cheeseburger

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

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

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

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

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always smiling

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…and ezra makes four

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baby boy is already 13 days old! after i wrote the last blog post, i ended up calling my ob who told me to go to the hospital right away. we made a pit stop to grab some snacks, drinks, and magazines. then we arrived at the hospital around 1:30am. i was immediately ushered into the triage room where i found out that i was 4cm dilated and 80% effaced. i got my membranes stripped again to get the labor moving along. my contractions were anywhere between 5-8 minutes so i wasn’t able to get the epidural until 3:50am. the hardest part in both of my pregnancies was trying to withstand the ever-growing contractions – the pain that radiates from your back to your abdomen is unexplainable. it makes you behave like a rabid animal- a teeth-gnashing, body-flailing, wild-eyed creature.

after i got the epidural, i calmed down considerably… but so did the progress of my labor. whereas with penny i was ready to push two hours later, i still remained at 4cm at 6am. finally my ob, nurse, and attending student started getting ready for delivery at 10am. i was told that ezra’s head was visible so it would probably be a quick delivery! i glanced at the clock and it was 10:05am when i started pushing. five minutes later, ezra was out! the agonizing contractions, and the wait for them to be consistent, were totally worth the easy delivery. we were all amazed at how quickly and effortlessly ezra came out.

here are the deets: ezra 하민 (ha-min) so born on april 11, 2017 at 10:10am. he weighed 7lb. 1oz and was 20 inches long.

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he loved getting his hair washed

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he seems so much smaller though… maybe it’s because we forgot how small newborn babies are but he definitely is smaller than penny when she was born. penny was only 8.5 oz heavier than him but it seems like she was more. she was also only a half inch longer but when she was born we all commented how tall she was.

currently he weighs 6 lb. 15 oz (babies always lose some weight afterwards because of fluid loss – it’s not a big deal as long as it’s not over 10% of their body weight.) we didn’t get too many newborn clothes because we remembered how briefly penny wore them, but ezra has been drowning in his 0-3 months / 3 months size clothes so i had to go out to purchase a few more newborn clothes.

 

our first visitors

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the grandparents and penny came the day ezra was born.

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our friends

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our friends, the choi family, and katie and mike came later on in the evening. genie came too but i wasn’t able to get a picture!

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4/12/17

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my parents and sister drove down the following day

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pastor james and his wife, hera, also came to visit and pray for us

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getting ready to go home

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auntie jen got her the ‘big sister’ ribbon

like penny, ezra has a really cute nose. everyone from doctors to visitors commented on ezra’s nose. a lot of asian babies tend to have wide noses but penny and ezra both lucked out and ended up with pretty noses. penny’s nose actually resembles dennis’ and ezra’s is more like mine. ezra also has 속 쌍꺼플 (inner folds on eyelids) that resulted in him having big eyes. his tiny face makes his eyes look even bigger.

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his long fingers also get a lot of compliments such as, “he should play the piano!”

penny had a lot of acid reflux when she was a newborn and was constantly spitting up milk. we don’t have that problem with ezra, but he is really gassy. we try to alleviate this problem by propping him up to feed him, burping him frequently, lying him on his tummy, doing bicycle kicks, and giving him gas relief drops. these methods have all been helpful especially tummy time. most nights he has trouble sleeping because of the discomfort (and i have difficulty sleeping because of the noise!) so i found that when he’s sleeping on his tummy, he sleeps better and longer. our pediatrician okayed supervised tummy sleeping during the day so if he’s not napping in his swing, he’s usually on his stomach. this position also helps him to maintain a nice, round head. with penny, i was afraid of sids so i rarely had her sleep on her tummy even though my mil wanted to have penny sleep that way. penny ended up with a flat spot on one side of her head so afterwards we were diligent about switching positions.

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daddy and son both fell asleep during a late-night feeding

since ezra has been home, our daily life consists of dennis waking up with penny, making her breakfast, and doing activities with her until i come down with ezra – usually between 10-11am. i do all the nighttime feedings and diaper changes since dennis needs his energy to take care of penny in the morning. because of this, i take a nap with ezra after his first morning feeding. when he wakes up, i feed him again and then we come downstairs.

my mom came to visit for the day

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dinner in the sunroom

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our first walk as a family of four

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like i mentioned before, nights had been rough because of gas (and a growth spurt between 7~10 days old) but last night was a lot better. he woke up only twice at night and one was a 4-hour stretch! he had trouble sleeping peacefully after his morning feeding so i took him out of the rock and play and placed him tummy side down on our bed. he slept for another hour and a half after that.

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one of the questions family and friends have been asking us the most is “how is penny doing?” well, she has had a hard time adjusting, that’s for sure. she, along with my in-laws, came to visit us at the hospital the day ezra was born. she was a bit apprehensive at meeting the baby although she did make a few remarks such as, “baby nose” in korean. she got really upset when grandma held ezra, but not when grandpa held him. it has been like this at home too. she starts crying hysterically whenever grandma or i hold the baby but she’s fine with dennis or grandpa holding him! penny also had a meltdown when i tried to pump in front of her (with a cover on) and when i was starting to prepare ezra’s bottle.

it has been difficult for all of us as we get used to having a newborn around but it seems as if penny is having the hardest time. still, she is slowly warming up to the baby with each passing day. she will give him kisses and hold him if we ask her to, and she doesn’t cry when she sees me holding him (although sometimes she does request that dad hold the baby instead). another thing that has been helping is the equal amount of attention we try to provide for both ezra and penny. grandma and dad make sure penny is well taken care of while i look after ezra. we also involve penny in our everyday tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and helping take care of ezra.

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i purchased all of penny’s easter gifts before ezra arrived, thankfully

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she LOVES the mickey mouse clock: she already can identify every number on the clock and say it.

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fun at church as always

4/17/17: daddy’s birthday

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d’s favorite: ice cream cake

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as the weather gets warmer, we love to eat our meals in the sun room

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penny also turns two next month and the terrible two’s seem to have already started. she has been more vocal in what she wants and gets incredibly upset (e.g throwing tantrums) when she doesn’t get her way. her “stranger danger” is at its peak right now so it’s difficult to bring her to restaurants or anywhere with a lot of people. for instance, after ezra’s first doctor visit we all went to ihop for breakfast afterwards. as it was a saturday morning, ihop was, well, hopping. penny started crying and freaking out because there were so many people there. she wouldn’t sit at our table until dennis took out saltine crackers. she became a lot more relaxed after our server brought the booster seat too. lately penny has been resisting her high chair and wanting to sit in the “big chair” at the table with us so we ordered a booster seat for our home.

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brunch at ihop: in a better mood

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we pray together as a family before penny goes to bed, and these days our biggest request is for us to have patience and empathy for penny as she gets used to having a younger sibling. and although dennis and i are both exhausted, we do have each other (and his parents) to help one another out. i’m so worried on how i, and the little ones, will fare once dennis returns to work. even though his mom comes over as much as she can to help take care of penny she also still works thursday-saturday. if it happens to be dennis’ long week, i will be alone these three days and i’m panicking just thinking about how the day will go particularly if penny isn’t cooperating with me.

for now, i’ll just have to focus on taking it one day at a time and seeing how today will go.