24 hours in portland, maine

what was supposed to be a fun-filled, child-free weekend in portland, maine was… well, still fun and, yes, child-free, but not a full weekend as we would have liked.

our friends were getting married in portland, maine so, of course, we had to make a weekend out of it. we anticipated a 3-hour drive per google maps and decided to leave around 9am to get to portland by noon for lunch. the wedding wasn’t until 6pm but we wanted to explore the small city.

it had been incredibly humid and raining on and off for the past week, and that saturday morning was no different. a little rain doesn’t hurt anyone but it was downpouring when we left our house. (we also didn’t leave at our planned 9am time, but rather at 9:50am). right when we got onto the highway, 84-east, there was traffic. and that was the story of our drive up. stop-and-go traffic for the next four hours. yes, four hours. the rain, the weekend traffic, and Dennis’ pit stop to use the bathroom added an extra hour to our drive. (later we found out there was a 10k in portland that day and guster was in town to play a show. these probably contributed to the traffic!)

we had decided to get an airbnb with some friends because 1) there was no hotel room block for weddings, and 2) the hotel rooms that were available were very expensive. the four of us had decided to grab lunch at eventide oyster company in downtown portland and stop by shipyard brewery for a beer before checking into our home.

it wasn’t until we were close to eventide that a friend informed me eventide is usually a 2-4 hour wait! can you believe that? who waits that long?? apparently, everyone because when we got there the line snaked out the door and almost down the entire block. it was a wait just to even get in to put our name down!

a passerby remarked that eventide is overrated so then we started wondering if we should go somewhere else. luckily, there was space in the standing room nearby where patrons can stand around to eat and drink. we opted to do that since we were already there. we were really curious to see how good the lobster rolls were and if the long wait is justified.

to start, we ordered four kinds of oysters. i know nothing about oysters except that they are bivalves. (I really enjoyed biology.) i’m actually fairly ambivalent to oysters: i’ll eat them if they’re there but I don’t go out of my way to order them. and dennis despises them, so then there were more for us. the two accoutrements we chose were kimchi ice and horseradish ice. again, not being an oyster aficionado I don’t have much to say but they both tasted fine to me. our server did mention the most popular one is horseradish.

we had also ordered a side of kimchi which we unanimously urge you not to order! that was a huge mistake. all four of us being Koreans, we saw ‘kimchi’ on the menu and we were like, “oh, hey!” no, no, no… please stay away. (seriously though, our friend, Cindy, took ownership of this blunder as she really wanted kimchi. we forgive you.) unless you know kimchi is made by a legit Korean ahjumma, don’t ever order kimchi from a non-korean restaurant! being the daughter of restaurateurs, i should know this and am rightfully ashamed.

back to the eventide kimchi, it was basically pickled cabbage. the coloring was off and I doubt authentic Korean red chili pepper flakes were even used. it was a sad, wilted mess. while we waited for the brown butter lobster rolls to come out, we drank our pints of allagash whites (yum) and I commented how all of Portland’s asians are right here in this establishment. (there seriously was a good amount.) because, you know, maine is like 99.9% white.

the $15 lobster rolls was small imo but absolutely worth the price. of course, the fresh lobster had a large part in the deliciousness but the brown butter was so heavenly. we thought about purchasing second rolls but that would’ve been another $15 each… and we had a wedding to attend in a couple of hours. (we would later regret not buying the extra rolls. more to come later.)

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you can see the sad excuse for kimchi on the left

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sooooo good

I can’t quite justify waiting 2-4 hours just to eat a freaking lobster roll though. I do want to return to eat them again, but will probably just stand instead of waiting an obscene amount of time for a table. if you’re in town, get the brown butter rolls but, again, do not order the kimchi. you have been warned.

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the crowd outside eventide

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everyone is just waiting around

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Dennis among them

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fresh

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this table was reserved. they don’t take reservations less than 6 people.

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unfortunately, the traffic and the wait for a space to open up ate up what little time we had to explore portland a little more. the boys actually did end up going to shipyard brewery while the girls chose to stay home and get ready for the wedding.the house we rented from airbnb was really cute and well-decorated. the owner is a Joanna Gaines fan (she had the magnolia cookbook, and so do I!) and the decor definitely screamed that. we liked everything about the house except it did not have air-conditioning. say what? what house, in this day and age, does not have ac? the guys had booked the house and this was news to them. turns out they failed to notice the ‘no ac’ sign on the ad. it wasn’t unbearably hot at night but still toasty enough where I couldn’t sleep with a blanket on, and I always sleep with a blanket or a thin bedsheet.

other than that, I would definitely rent the house again. it only has 2 bedrooms so not ideal with the children since they sleep in their own bedrooms. but it would be great to return with friends, again.

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workstation on the right when you enter the home

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open floor plan

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I love white kitchens

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huge farmer’s sinks

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note the tiny adirondack chair

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first floor wash

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second floor

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bedroom #1

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bedroom #2

we were all able to ready in time for the wedding! we took an uber to the venue (10-minute drive) so we wouldn’t have to worry about driving back after drinking. it’s a great thing we did because it was so hard to find parking! our friends had driven up from boston and they spent 40 minutes looking for parking, and they were peeved!

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gorgeous yellow dress from rent the runway

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cindy’s dress is from rent the runway, too!

the wedding took place at an irish pub in downtown portland called ri ra. our friends had a private ceremony earlier during the day and were holding a reception for family and friends. the reception took place on the second floor of the pub. I definitely felt out of place as we got out of the uber car because we were so dolled up. people were staring but not unkindly; probably wondering why we were so dressed up for a pub.

it was definitely a very minimal wedding. it just felt like a gathering for friends and family. the food consisted of appetizers all night and there was no cake (sadly, since i have a huge sweet tooth). I had also looked forward to dancing but there wasn’t any music playing either. there were no photo opps so we just took pictures of each other by the dock or at the bar. for a cash bar, the guys seemed to really enjoy downing drinks. i didn’t finish my sangria and i had a glass of pinot grigio before calling it a night.

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hanna, me, and Esther

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one with meagan

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all of us with the bride

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pc: rob

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the lovely couple, rob and cindy

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finally, a decent one

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pc: cindy

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mind you, i was feeling bashful since there was a crowd of people watching

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the bride with her daughter, quinn

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after the wedding ended around 9, a group of us went back to our home to eat and hang out. we ordered 4 boxes of pizza since we were still hungry and the boys also bought beer and wine.

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missing sarah and justin in this photo

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the next morning, we were going to go to holy donut on a friend’s recommendation but good thing I had called! the line was out the door and snaking around the building.. is there a line for everything in portland?!

I was so disappointed because I love doughnuts but it wouldn’t be smart to waste time waiting in line. instead, we went to st. joe’s coffee in scarborough, maine. there ended up being a line here as well (geez louise) but much more manageable than at the holy donut. we ordered breakfast sandwiches and wraps to go since we had a long drive back. (rob and cindy had a 7-hour drive to jersey!)

dennis and I actually drove 20 minutes in the opposite direction to see one of the most photographed lighthouses in the world, portland head light in cape elizabeth. even though dennis was feeling awful, he gamely agreed to go since he knew how disappointed I was about not going to holy donut.

I’m so glad we had gone because the lighthouse was beautiful! a big crowd here as well but that’s expected for a famous lighthouse in the peak summer months. I purchased a few postcards and magnets from the gift shop, and that was more waiting in line.

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dennis putting on a brave face

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lighthouses to visit

we wish we had had more time to explore portland, but it wasn’t worth sticking around for a few more hours knowing we had a nightmare of a drive back. it ended up being 3.5 hours but there was still stop-and-go traffic all the way home.

next time we will have to go an extra day (take a monday or a friday off) because the drive alone with all those cars was infuriating. this was not my first time in portland but the last time I had visited was well over a decade ago.

still, we we enjoyed having an adult-only weekend and catching up with friends. i look forward to going back to portland.

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i will survive…

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ezra all dressed up for katie and mike’s wedding

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

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ezra at 2 weeks old

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[family day in hartford]

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

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snacking on blackberries

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[in-laws’ 38th wedding anniversary]

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cake

i made this cute cake topper using my cricut!

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[ katie & mike’s wedding ]

location: the barns at wesleyan hills in middletown, ct

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[ visit from mom and sister from last week ]

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aruba

dennis and i returned from a destination wedding in aruba two weeks ago. (has it already been two weeks?) we had such an amazing time: the weather was perfect – sunny and in the lower 90s every day. it hardly ever rains in aruba, but the winds are fierce! they help to cool you down under the blistering sun but it is annoying to have towels and other things fly away. particularly the sand stinging our bodies while we relaxed by the beach was irritating, but a small price to pay to be in paradise!

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the gorgeous riu palace

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the riu palace recently underwent renovations and is easily the most beautiful hotel in the area

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we absolutely loved aruba and would love to go back. what was even better was that it was our 3rd vacation without penny. we love her dearly but we need to have time for ourselves too! being able to sleep in, going to bed whenever, and doing what we wanted to do was heavenly… more trips in the future, please!

my main goal was to lay out by the beach and get tan! mission accomplished, although dennis and i had horrendous burn marks on the first day from the sun’s strong rays (even though i had reapplied twice). thankfully they faded into a tan.

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every day, the staff at riu toss out water balloons and guests go nuts throwing them at each other. so bad for the environment 😦

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view from our balcony

besides laying out by the pool or the ocean and going into the water, we went on one excursion: the jolly pirate! it’s basically a booze cruise with a rope swing. we had a blast, and i also took pictures of (almost) everyone there with my selfie stick. ever since penny was born, and even before that, i had cut way back on alcohol. so even though this was an all-inclusive vacation, i didn’t drink  much and i didn’t feel the pressure to have to just because it was included.

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about to swing!

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dennis was the best one

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gorgeous caribbean sunset

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IMG_8441IMG_8440the main reason for going to aruba, of course, was to see our friends, danielle and ryan, get married! it was a beautiful, low-key wedding by the beach complete with paparazzi – the beach-goers surrounded us and we are saved on people’s phones and tablets all over the world probably. dinner was indoors but in an open-air setting. after the cake, we moved to an outdoor area by the pool to get our dance on!

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groom and his groomsmen!

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the radiant bride!

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a kiss at sunset

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although we were on vacation i didn’t go too crazy with the partying. i was tired, and i really wanted to cherish the time i could sleep long hours without interruption. even so, when i went back to the room i would get lost in a book that was i reading: euphoria by lily king. i really enjoyed having quiet time to myself, and even though most of our party was still out drinking or mingling i chose to end the night early almost every night we were there. i don’t regret it all!

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taking in the nightly entertainment at the hotel

penny was fabulous, as always, while we were gone.. and she didn’t have separation anxiety at all. she never really has. sometimes she’ll get clingy during leaps or when she’s teething, but we don’t have to worry about her waking up or crying because she misses us. it may happen later on but it hasn’t so far..

to conclude, i’ve included some photos that i took from the couple’s “trash the dress” photo shoot! danielle bought a $200 dress to trash; she didn’t destroy her actual dress!

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aruba, you were so good to us. where are we off to next?

 

hurry up & slow down

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penny is nearing her 10th month. 10! we are closing in on the double-digits here. she spends most of her awake time crawling and is ready to pass out by the time her nap time rolls around. now that she’s more mobile and burning more calories, she’s getting tired earlier. i tried to keep her up on a few occasions so she wouldn’t be taking naps so soon but then she ends up being grouchy and taking short naps.

this morning she woke up around 5:45am (ugh) but slept 11 hours straight last night so she was totally ready for the day. dennis got up with her and i slept a little longer after pumping. she was ready to sleep around 8am but we tried feeding her solids again (she hasn’t been receptive to breakfast lately) and she only took a few bites. after a short naptime routine in her nursery, she fell asleep around 8:40. *fingers crossed she sleeps longer than an hour*

as penny becomes more and more like a mini adult, i find myself caught in a mixture of emotions. as eager as i am to discover penny’s new-found skills, i also feel a twinge of sadness at her progress: she’s leaving the infant stage behind and becoming a toddler. 😥 it’s quite the paradox, isn’t it?

it’s getting increasingly difficult to change her diapers, give her baths, and feed her because she wants to go, go, go! we rarely cradle her anymore but when we do we are amazed at how tall she is. i never really thought i’d be this wistful of her wee newborn days, but she was so little then and there seemed to be all the time in the world for her to grow up.

even now, i find myself thinking, “i can’t wait until she’s older so we can ____.” there are future disney vacations (maybe one next year), beach outings, day trips, and jet-setting around the world to be had when her naps aren’t in the way of life. still, even when she is old enough, there’s the possibility that she’ll have siblings which makes it even more tough to travel.

but, for now, there’s just penny… and i want to take her all in and enjoy having just her for as long as we can. try not to look so far ahead. the future will happen. enjoy now; enjoy this moment.

penny and i went grocery shopping recently. what’s so special about that? well, dennis and i usually go grocery shopping together so one is pushing the stroller and the other is handling the cart. however, we needed some items that day (particularly fresh produce for baby food) so i took penny. it was her first time sitting in the shopping cart and she did well!

i don’t have a shopping cart seat cover so i used a thick blanket to pad the area for her. i also used a muslin swaddle blanket to cushion her legs and chest. i noticed that she jerks forward whenever i push the cart so the blanket helped her from teetering back and forth.

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observing other customers

penny was fairly quiet during the entire trip. she liked being free from the constraints of a hot car seat and she had a 360-degree view of the world.

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checking out the grocery list


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i made her laugh 🙂


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checking out the light fixtures and sprinklers


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she loves to read, like mommy! she’s checking out bridal magazines though.. too soon, too soon!


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she was getting hungry and tired.. this is after we purchased the groceries. passers-by were remarking how cute penny was when she started lying down.

penny’s finally attempting to hold the bottle on her own. she always could; she just never wanted to because she wants to play with toys. even now, she’s easily distracted but she’s starting to become a little more independent. she also started to “read” books during mealtimes. she loves the book “100 first word”: she squeals and smiles whenever she sees the book, and she flips through the pages on her own.

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i’m still making the majority of penny’s food. one easy recipe i tried recently is pastina. i got this recipe from a baby food cookbook and it only requires two ingredients: pastina and low-sodium chicken broth. pastina means “little pasta” and these are star-shaped (adorable).

lovely little pasta soup

1 1/2 c. low-sodium chicken broth

2 tbs. pastina

bring broth to a gentle boil and add pastina. stir occasionally and let cook for 7~8 minutes or until tender. serve warm. when reheating, add a little bit of water to the pastina. makes about 4 servings.

i didn’t think 2 tablespoons of pastina would be a lot but i was surprised how much there was after it was done cooking. the recipe says 4 servings but i definitely stretched to 6; it depends how much your baby wants to eat it. penny really liked it but i like offering her a variety of foods at mealtimes so she doesn’t get bored.

grace and i went to the mall last sunday to look for a wedding outfit. we are going to a friend’s wedding on 3/26 and have “nothing to wear.” we really wanted to find midi or maxi skirts but couldn’t find any we liked. i may have to buy an outfit online…

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enjoying godiva cones and breaking in grace’s new selfie stick


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i like macarons but i rarely eat them because they are so expensive. my favorite of the bunch was lemon poppy.

the northeast has been fortunate to have beautiful, warm weather this week! yesterday peaked at 75 degrees! it’s actually raining right now (boo) but the temperature is still 70. i’m glad we went out for a family walk around lunchtime because it looks as if i won’t be able to take penny and yuri out later. we are going to the library though after penny’s last nap.

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it was a little windy so dennis’ mom wrapped a scarf around her.


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looking like a little babushka


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selfie with mommy


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the playground is literally in our backyard. an elementary school is behind our neighborhood so we’ll be coming here often this summer!

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the photos below were taken yesterday when i took penny and yuri out for an early evening walk.

she’s so adorable with the sunglasses but like most babies, she’s not a fan. she actually took them off the first time (3rd photo, right after i took the picture). i bribed her with crackers and she kept them on after that but i felt bad so i took them off after a few minutes.

the middle picture is where she’s busy shoving a cracker in her mouth and it looks like she’s giving me the finger 😛

looking forward to this weekend! my parents are visiting for the day tomorrow with a ton of food from their restaurant (yay!!) and my friend’s birthday dinner is that night. then on saturday morning, genie and i are heading to new jersey for the day to shop, eat and meet up with friends 🙂

i’ve been taking a hiatus on making crafts for penny’s birthday but the invitations went out last week and guests are slowly sending in their rsvp’s. i can’t believe the party will be in 2 months!! i’m hoping to resume party planning next week; there are a lot of things that i need to make… onward ho!

busy, busy, busy!

“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” ~ Walt Disney Co.

penny is so alert and curious these days. as she becomes more and more aware of the world, she just wants to be in the moment, exploring and experiencing… it’s hard for babies around this age to relax their minds before naps/bedtime hence the infamous 8~10 month sleep regression.

i believe we’ve slowly been going through it for the past two weeks. usually 1 out of 2 naps have been affected – 45 minutes or less. sometimes she wakes up happy and is chattering away whereas others she wakes up, crying because she’s tired. for the past two and a half months, penny’s awake time had been 2/3/4 but her awake time has slowly increased as she’s getting older. part of the reason her naps are all over the place is because she wants to be up and playing; she’s having difficulty putting her brain on pause. another reason is that we are still trying to figure out her awake time. sometimes she’s overtired and other times she’s undertired.

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playing with the mobile this morning. we have to lower the crib bottom!


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trying to stand on her own!

right now, for instance, she’s still on her first nap and it’s almost 11am! she woke up at 7am today (having slept 12 hours straight last night) and went down for her first nap around 10. it seems like her schedule is 3/3.5/4 now but we are still tweaking it because usually her first nap has been great while the second one suffers. it’s more important that the second one is longer for two reasons: 1) this is the nap babies keep when they transition down to one nap usually around 14~18 months, and 2) the awake time from the second nap to bedtime is the longest so they need to be well-rested for that.

well, yesterday, penny had a half-hour nap for the second one and she still stayed up for 4 hours before bedtime..without a meltdown, but perhaps we were lucky. she’s still been sleeping 11 hours straight every night, and last night she slept 12 hours, maybe, because of her short last nap. i’m hoping her night sleep doesn’t get interrupted, but it may once she really starts crawling and standing up. she’s been trying to do both (even in the bathtub!), and has been crawling forward a little. it’s not full-on crawling but she will go forward a few steps and fall back on her tummy, get back up, fall down, and repeat.

in order for penny to sleep well, we’ve been bringing her up to the nursery to wind down before her naps. about a half hour before we want her to sleep, we go upstairs to her room with her bottle. we have only table lamp on so it’s dim in the room and we also have the white noise on. we’ve also been using the boppy lounger (and a pillow) to give her her bottle so she can relax and play with toys while we feed her. she’s so easily distracted so we have to have a bunch of objects nearby for her to play with otherwise she’ll push the bottle out of her mouth. after she’s done with the bottle, we might read a few books, check her diaper and then put her in the sleep sack. then, she’ll take anywhere from 5~15 minutes to pass out. it’s a hit-or-miss lately but mostly because we’ve been trying to figure out a good time to put her down. (a few days ago she played for an hour in her crib before finally falling asleep!)

penny is also talking! her first word was 맘마, or mam-ma which means “food” in korean. she says this when she’s really hungry and impatient! she also says 엄마, or umma (mom) 아빠, or abba (dad)! when we say 도리도리 (do-ri, do-ri) she shakes her head back and forth. she also recently learned how to turn on the tv -_- we don’t let her watch tv but she plays with the remote sometimes so she’s figured it out. she will press the red button and look up at the tv to watch it turn on…

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penny trying to knock down the camera -_-

i guess we scored with penny’s first nap today because she’s still sleeping. i hate waking her up but i’m going to have to in 5 minutes to preserve her afternoon nap. hoping she gets two good naps in today. i’ll have to update later this afternoon.

3:23pm ~

penny finally went down for her afternoon nap. it took her 25 minutes because she kept fighting it and managed to knock over the camera again; i had to go in there to place it on the higher part of the crib. we’ll see what time she wakes up…

we had gotten back from a home goods outing with my mil and we met up with genie and olivia there. there are so many adorable things there that it’s incredibly difficult to hold back from buying out the whole store. both olivia and penny were chatting up a storm and snacking the entire time. 🙂

here’s a quick recap of some of the activities that the so family has been up to since the last post!

we had a play date with dana and avery two weeks ago. they also brought seollung-tang (설렁탕), or ox bone broth, from new jersey for lunch!

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penny & avery


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penny (9 months) & avery (14 months)

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avery chilling with yuri while the mommies eat

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we also had a play date with genie and olivia the next day! dennis stopped by after work to hang out and brought penny for bedtime routine while genie and i crafted.

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at least, 3 out of 4 are looking at the camera

notice the matching outfits? totally unplanned 😀

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olivia will be 11 months this week and probably walking before her first birthday, haha

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she really liked the piano!


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dinner time!


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winston (the dog) keeping us company


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creating artwork for alice & john’s upcoming baby shower

family swim day ~~

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love her expression here!

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getting ready to go home


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collage made on dennis’ phone


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she loves to “read” this book

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fun with bubbles!

this past sunday, i went to my friend abby’s baby shower. it’s always nice to get out of the house without a baby…

abby is expecting a girl on 4/19 – another gal pal for penny 🙂

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the favors included crocheted flower bookmarks handmade by abby’s mil’s sister

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bridget (standing) toasting her sister, abby (black tank)


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yes, the walking dead!


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great view

and finally, my outfit to the shower, hehe.. before i was pregnant with penny, i had a fashion blog on tumblr but now it’s all about penny on wordpress. i try to do fashion and lifestyle-related posts but they all take a backseat next to the baby. so, i’m trying to squeeze one in here.

about a month ago, i purchased a light gray coat from h&m but hadn’t had the chance to wear it yet due to the weather. this past weekend was in the 50s so i finally was able to wear it!

since i normally wear neutrals, i thought it’d be fun to add a splash of color with my lilac skinny jeans from j.crew. it’s march now so hopefully spring-like weather will keep occurring.

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update on penny’s nap: she woke up after a half hour, crying…. bahh.. she’s in the playroom with grandma so off i go to join them.

punta cana – destination wedding

we returned last week from vacation #2 without penny. our friends, mayra and evan, held their wedding in punta cana and, of course, we had to go!

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the beautiful bride and groom!

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the adorable flower girl – the bride’s niece

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the lovely bride and her father

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the bouquets

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dennis and i were much less worried about penny this time around due to the success of the vegas trip.. mil reassured us with lots of photos and updates via kakaotalk (a korean messaging app). however, this trip still wasn’t without a lot of headaches…

we were supposed to depart at 6am on friday, january 15th, and arrived at bradley airport a little after 4. after getting our boarding passes, we should have stood in the security line but we kept our friends company because one had left his passport in his mom’s car and was waiting for her to come back to the airport with it. we were with them, maybe, ten minutes tops but that time could have been spent waiting in the security line… because by the time we got there we realized just how insanely long that line was: it reached all the way to the other side of the airport! needless to say we missed our flight by MINUTES… the plane was still at the gate but they wouldn’t let us board the plane 😡 dennis and i debated driving down to newark, nj because that’s where our connecting flight was but with morning traffic and dennis’s dad having to come back to get us, we knew we wouldn’t make it. our luggage got on the flight so we had to hope that they wouldn’t get misplaced in newark since we now had to fly out a day later.

initially, i was angry about missing our flight but i got over it fairly quickly. dennis wasn’t that upset either. i guess it’s because there wasn’t anything else we could do, and it was just nice having that extra day spending it with penny. if this had happened even a year ago, i would have probably thrown a tantrum but after having a baby, i suppose i grew up a little, no? since dennis and i had been awake since 3:40am dennis’s mom stayed for the day and took care of penny while we napped.

after a lot of phone calls and being put on hold, orbitz agreed to let us stay an extra day in punta cana to make up for the day that we had lost. we also got the ‘okay’ from hard rock hotel to stay another night with no additional fees. success! 

everything was fine now, right? it was until we got to our hotel. upon checking in, the front desk said we would be charged for friday night because the room was “empty” and we were a “no-show”.. and no, we could not stay until wednesday. after explaining that this had been dealt with and getting orbitz on the phone, we finally got to our room and had an hour to get ready before the welcome dinner at 6pm.

we had a very enjoyable time in punta cana but the changes to our trip didn’t get resolved until monday – two days later – so until then we kept worrying that we would have to leave on tuesday. not something you want hanging over your heads.

pumping, this time, was less of a hassle than it was in vegas. i’ve been pumping every 4-5 hours lately so that gave me plenty of time to be on the beach and do other activities before heading back to the hotel room to pump. i’ve been renting the medela symphony pump (hospital-grade) because my ameda purely yours has been losing suction. i get a lot more output with the hospital pump. the only downside is that it’s so heavy and cumbersome, but i did bring it with me to punta cana. i brought back over 150 oz., or 9.3 lb., of milk! the milk was mostly the reason my luggage was over the weight limit by 10 lb so i had to put the milk into a different carry-on.

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pumping in the security room at the airport in punta cana

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our layover was in dc on the way home and that airport has nursing rooms!

it was so wonderful to get away from the cold and be able to relax. we got a tan from lounging on the beach, celebrated our friends’ beautiful wedding on the beach, and even swam with sharks and sting rays!

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i took this shot of people walking on the dock during our excursion

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last day in paradise

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sun and wine

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we’re on a boat!

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cerveza!

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cabana life

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dennis relaxing on a hammock

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dennis enjoying some meat at a brazilian joint

 

 

still, nothing beats home.. especially if you’re under the weather. most of the wedding party and guests caught a viral infection, and many were sick during the trip too – mostly diarrhea.. maybe from the ice in the drinks and brushing their teeth with tap water. i drank mostly beer so i wasn’t affected until i came home. dennis has had a really bad sore throat for over a week now. he got it checked out and it’s not strep so that’s a relief.

dennis goes back to work on thursday so we’ve been spending time together as a family, and taking turns sleeping in while the other tends to penny first thing in the morning. i wish every day was like this. i love my family!

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sunset during our first night

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our room was less than a minute’s walk to the beach

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the rooms have a spacious 2-person jacuzzi in the middle of the room. it was hard to get out of the tub, let me tell you!

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this arden b jumpsuit is perfect for the beach

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outfit for the wedding

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like many women, i fretted over what to wear to the wedding and ended up going to the mall twice to find an ensemble. i bought an off-the-shoulder forest green top from forever 21 for $12.90 and paired it with a gold maxi that i had already had!

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danielle, roberta & me

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the reception was held on the terrace – straight up gorgeous

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mother-and-son dance

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father-and-daughter dance

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cake cutting

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the flower girl and her daddy

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penny’s first christmas

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penny in her playroom


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she loves yogurt!

’twas a very merry christmas!

i was so excited to celebrate our first christmas as a family because it’s such an important, and festive, holiday.

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playing with the gift the so grandparents got her


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one of her many gifts: a ball pit!


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thank you, jennie and kaylee, for the adorable headband!


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looks so much cuter with hair!

christmas is also my mom’s birthday. it’s rough having your birthday fall on the biggest holiday of the year and sharing it with jesus so we try to make it special for my mom. my parents came down for dinner on christmas eve, and we went out to eat with dennis’ parents as well. my mom is very selfless and doesn’t ask for much so i know she was overjoyed when we surprised her with a cake – strawberry cheesecake from vernon diner to be specific.

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i love you, mom! happy birthday ❤

taking advantage of being able to spend time with us, my mom practically held penny the entire time. she and my mil took turns feeding penny her bottle and butternut squash with pear.

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entertaining herself during dinner


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before we left for dinner

so much good happens in my life, and as every year draws to a close i wonder how next year can even possibly be on the same level, or even better, than this one. but every year has been better than the last.

2015 was no exception and is probably the most important year of my life since i became a mommy to a healthy, vivacious, happy, and beautiful baby girl. it’s hard to believe penny’s already 7.5 months. with each passing day, i’m in awe of what she knows and can do. for example, today she began saying “da da da.” she had been saying, “ba ba ba” for some time now but has been more vocal the past few days. she also has been screeching and yelling (while smiling) because she can.

penny also gave us a wonderful gift: sleeping on her own. we’ve been rocking penny to sleep since she was born. as she got heavier and heavier we have been wondering how long we would have to do this for. we knew we would have to start sleep training but i, in particular, was nervous about this daunting task. do we try the “cry it out” method? what do we do? it turns out we didn’t have to do anything except put her down.

when researching on sleep training i kept reading “put baby down ‘drowsy but awake'” and thought, “yeah, right.. penny will never sleep like that.” we were too afraid to risk it, and honestly penny probably wasn’t ready. until three days ago.

around 6 months, penny transitioned to a 2-nap day and her awake time has been slowly increasing. currently, penny’s on track to being on the 2-3-4 schedule. if you don’t know what that is, it means your baby’s awake period is 2 hours before first nap, 3 hours before second nap, and 4 hours before bedtime. for quite some time, penny’s awake time was 2 hours before each nap and then, maybe, 3 until bedtime. we have been slowly increasing the increments in her awake time while still following her sleepy cues.

we also noticed that if her second nap was a half hour and gave her a third nap, she wouldn’t fall asleep as easily for bedtime. therefore if she ever had a “disaster nap” for the second nap we would put her to bed a little earlier.

this website was so helpful in helping me figure out penny’s schedule. yes, all babies are different but the “sleep lady” was on point for penny’s needs. we don’t let penny sleep longer than 2 hours for any nap and we are mindful of her awake time.

back in november, penny was sleeping 10-hour stretches which were wonderful but also driving us crazy because she would be awake and ready to go at 4am. she would play for an hour or even more and finally end up falling asleep again. thankfully, she had learned how to self-soothe by then so she wasn’t crying for us but i would lie awake wondering if i would have to tend to her or not. on one of the nights penny would not fall asleep i told dennis to turn off the night light on the video monitor. we were skeptical, but it worked! with the room pitch-black, penny soon fell asleep! now we knew why she had had a hard time falling back asleep: as she became more aware of her surroundings, the night light distracted her and kept her from sleeping even though she was tired.

one of the other reasons for her early-morning wake-ups was that penny had started waking up around 6am or earlier so by the end of the day she would want to go to bed around 5:30! it was stressful trying to make her stay up until, at least, 6pm so she wouldn’t wake up so early the next day. (now that penny has a set schedule i see that she was trying to fully transition to 2 naps and we had to fiddle with her awake time.)

some days she slept even longer, until 5am, but then would not fall back asleep because.. face it, 11 hours straight is pretty dang good. that’s a well-rested baby. but again, with time, and with the increase in her awake time penny has been waking up after 6am and sleeping after 6pm.

i was pretty satisfied with penny’s progress until she threw me for a loop three nights ago. even though penny was tired, she would not sleep. i rocked her for 3 hours.. is that crazy or what?! every time i put her in the crib, her eyes would fly open. it was obvious she was ready to pass out because every time i picked her back up her eyes would immediately close. finally, out of frustration, exhaustion, and hunger i placed her in the crib around 9:40pm and walked downstairs.

as i ate a very late dinner and watched the monitor, penny fussed and played for ten minutes and then fell asleep. i couldn’t believe it. first of all, she had been on her side in the merlin suit and fell asleep like that! and second, there was no pacifier and no one to soothe her.. she just.. fell asleep.

thinking it was just a fluke and that she had just been exhausted from being up so long, dennis tried rocking her for her morning nap the next day. but, penny would wake up whenever he put her down. finally he came downstairs to see if she would fall asleep on her own AND SHE DID! penny has been telling us she’s ready to fall asleep by herself.. and we are ECSTATIC that we don’t have to rock her anymore.

sleep is such a beautiful, beautiful thing… and penny has been sleeping 11 straight hours without us having to tend to her. we still can’t believe it. of course, all will change when her teeth finally come in.. and the 8-month sleep regression is quickly approaching but we are SO enjoying this right now! and we are so proud that penny has been able to figure out how to sleep on her own. we are finally feeling more rested, and happier because of it too.

sweet dreams, penny.