valentine’s arts & crafts

with valentine’s day two days away, it’s not too late to make cute gifts handmade by your toddler. i selected 4 different projects and started doing them in mid-january so i could 1) spread them out, and 2) have ample time to get each one completed.

the first project penny and i created were tie-dye paper hearts.

materials needed

  • card stock (preferably, white)
  • scissors
  • food coloring (at least 3 different colors)
  • white vinegar
  • baking soda
  • spoon
  • dropper
  • small bowls
  • newspapers or big piece of cardboard
  • paper plates, baking pan or plastic take-out containers

*note: i got all of the materials prepped beforehand so penny wouldn’t make too much of a mess with the food coloring

first, i poured a small amount of vinegar into clean yogurt bowls and i added a few drops of different colored food coloring to each container. then i folded card stock in half and cut out hearts in various sizes (i cut out 4 total). next, i laid out a big piece of cardboard to protect the kitchen floor. finally, i set down all of the materials in front of penny and demonstrated what to do. she was really eager to try and learned how to use a dropper.

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first, you generously sprinkle baking soda onto the heart.

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then, using a dropper you squeeze food coloring and vinegar all over the heart.

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make sure to cover the entire heart.

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she liked seeing the baking soda and vinegar mixture bubble

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she kept playing with the ingredients even after the project was done.

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when the hearts are dry, scrape off the excess baking soda into a trash can and the color will be even brighter.

the second project that we did were the “love” canvases. having another adult is preferred for this project because of the paint.

materials needed

  • canvases (different sizes if preferred)
  • washi tape
  • pencil and eraser
  • washable paint
  • paper plate
  • brushes in various sizes
  • big piece of cardboard or newspapers

any project that requires paint, we do just before bathtime so we can scoop penny up and place her in the tub. this also requires prep work. i wrote the letters l-o-v-e using a pencil and no stencil though you could! then i used washi tape to cover only the letters: this is so when penny paints the canvas, the letters remain untouched until you peel the tape off afterwards.

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*note – washi tape works better than blue tape used for painting rooms (surprisingly) but it may have been because the blue tape we had was less sticky to prevent drywall from coming off.

we also found that using less colors made the artwork look prettier since when paint is smeared around, the colors turn brownish. for the second canvas, i opted only to use red, pink, purple, and white. for the last one, i also added a sky blue color.

you may find that there is a lot of negative space left. we had to keep turning the canvas so penny would evenly distribute the paint. there’s no need to cover the entire canvas but make sure the letters can be seen when the tape is peeled off. in addition, penny was rather shy about painting even though she gets excited for it. she was mostly fixated on squishing the paint between her fingers and saying, “지지” (which means “dirty”) so we had to reassure it was okay to be messy.

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less colors the second and third time around

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the third project we did was the valentine’s photo magnets we purchased from oriental trading. i get a catalog from this company though i had never purchased from them before – it was probably from my teaching days. i flipped through the february issue and saw a few arts & crafts projects including the photo magnets. i settled on this one because it was the easiest for a young toddler to do and is a nice keepsake. a package of 12 magnets was $7.99 but shipping was almost the same!

i think the hardest part was choosing different photos for each magnet. i chose family members and penny’s friends for a total of 12 magnets (of course, we made one for our family too). for penny’s friends, i made sure to select pictures that included penny and her playmate. the cutout for the photo was also small so for some magnets, i had to make the hole bigger and/or cut out the images from photos to make a collage. you’ll see what i mean when you see the photos below.

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she loves stickers!

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10/12 magnets

finally, the last project we did was stamping hearts using a toilet paper roll.

materials needed

  • toilet paper roll
  • paper
  • scotch tape
  • washable paint
  • newspapers or big piece of cardboard
  • brushes and sponges

while holding the toilet paper roll. you make a crease across the top by gently folding it. then, pinch the bottom of the roll so it makes the point of the heart.maintain the heart shape by taping the two rounded tops of the heart together. then you pour paint onto a plate, dip the stamp onto it, and you have a heart stamper!

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knowing toddler’s attention spans, you will find this is a quick activity which is why i also included brushes and sponges to keep penny preoccupied for a little while longer. again, she enjoyed touching the paint more than anything.

i hope you enjoyed reading this post and have fun making a mess creating beautiful artwork with your little ones!

happy valentine’s day ❤

those busy toddler days

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

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

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

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

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

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

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avocado toast at kuppi cafe

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

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lunch at mitsuwa

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nuna pipa car seat

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dream shade

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gam mi-ok before heading home

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

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

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

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

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penny & ethan

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with the mommy-to-be

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i thought it was an actual cake

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

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

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

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

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penny enjoying strawberries while parker munches on veggie sticks

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penny and serina checking out the sensory board

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

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air blowing up a balloon

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pushing the table so the marker can make lines

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interactive floor

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she liked the magnatiles and especially the color-changing table

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

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squashing aliens

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not a fan of the sportscenter broadcasting station

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the water was too cold for her liking

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giant bubble maker

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check out the snake skin

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she just wanted to play with the markers

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painting buddies

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i made snowflakes as the duo painted

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

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

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

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

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

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

penny’s selfies

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

christmas tree canvas art

for one of our holiday-themed activities, penny and i created a christmas tree using washable paint on canvas.

penny loves to paint (mostly to feel the squishy paint between her fingers). i hid her paint set because she would ask every day for me to open them. i felt bad about hiding them but it can be a hassle setting everything up for her to only have her paint for a few minutes and then wander off with paint all over her body.

when i do come up with projects, i mostly do them after dinner so when we are finished she can go right into the bath tub. it also helps if someone else is around like dennis or my mil.

i came up with the christmas tree art myself. i have leftover contact paper from when i made a faux marble countertop for penny’s play kitchen so i figured i could use that to create a christmas tree template.

first, i unrolled the contact paper over the canvas to see how much i would need. after cutting the paper, i placed it over the canvas so i could draw an outline of a christmas tree. i also used a sharpie.

then, i carefully cut out the tree (save it for later!) and then peeled off the adhesive backing from the “scrap paper” (or the white space of the tree). i lined up the contact paper with the canvas. i pressed the paper down, smoothed it out, and wrapped the edges around the canvas.

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penny had fun smearing green paint all over the canvas. it didn’t matter that it got on the contact paper because the paint didn’t get underneath it. while my mil gave penny a bath, i carefully peeled off the contact paper and viola – an evergreen tree! i let it dry overnight and placed it on the windowsill out of penny’s reach.

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for the next part of the project, i peeled off the adhesive backing from the tree cutout that i had saved and placed it right over the tree. using sky blue paint, penny painted the background. again, the contact paper helped preserve the picture. thankfully dennis was around to help me with this part.

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then i had penny glue on colorful poms to represent christmas lights. initially i had white glue on a plate and gave penny a paintbrush to randomly paint glue on the tree. this didn’t work because penny was just dabbing glue on and the poms wouldn’t stick. i ended up helping her paint glue on and place the poms on the tree. (i have poms with adhesive backings that would’ve been perfect but i let penny play with them months ago so they’re not sticky anymore. if you can find poms like those, that would be ideal. i had gotten them from target around easter so the downside was that they’re pastel-colored – not exactly christmas light-material.)

for the final touch, i cut out the gold glitter star and glued that on.

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using contact paper on canvas inspired me to do more art projects with penny using these two materials. dennis and i decided on a woodland theme for our baby boy’s nursery and sprinkle so i’m going to create artwork depicting woodland creatures. i can have penny help by having her paint on the body of the animals (with the help of cutouts) and i can do the finer details like the facial features.

the goal is to have four animal canvases and maybe i’ll make some others with just evergreen trees. i really liked how the christmas tree looked before having all the decorations put on it – it was simple and had more of a rustic feel.the sprinkle is about two months away and i know it’ll approach quickly so i hope to get a start on these next art projects soon!

for a more low-key art activity, penny painted white snow onto blue paper to create a landscape. then she placed holiday-themed stickers on the paper. in hindsight i would’ve used dark blue paper for the white paint to show up more.

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we’ve had 3 snow days so far but have yet to venture out in it. one of the reasons is because all of penny’s snow gear is wrapped up under the tree, but it’s also too cold! i’m sure there will be more snow once christmas is over so we will get to play outdoors. we also live near an elementary school and our backyard faces the hilly field so we will have to buy a sled soon.

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i had to take yuri out for a walk while penny napped

penny had fun playing with fake snow at her toddler class last week. it’s a material called “insta-snow” that the instructor purchased on amazon. it’s cold (though not as ice cold as real snow) and fluffy. it was amazing to see it transform into snow once water was poured onto it.

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snowman collage using glue and cutouts

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first time playing with shaving cream!

i had penny touch snow for the first time when she was about 8 months old and she hated it – too cold! it’ll be interesting to see her reaction this winter.

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23 weeks!

easter weekend

ah, penny’s in bed for the night and i’m on the couch updating my blog while taking breaks to eat 갈비찜 (braised short ribs) that my mil made.

today flew by ~~ these days seem to be going by so fast. i helped genie set up for olivia’s first birthday party this saturday so my mil watched penny from 12-6:30pm. i can’t believe olivia’s dol is this weekend!!! i’m actually nervous, and excited, for genie because i know first-hand just how stressful planning for a baby’s first birthday is. genie is very crafty (like me) and she made these beautiful tissue paper flowers as a backdrop. i can’t wait to blog about olivia’s birthday!

i finally started gluing the beans for penny’s dol towers. i need to make 3: one for her name, one that says “축 돌” (abbreviated form of “congratulations – first bithday”), and the last one of a lamb (penny’s zodiac). i’ve been putting this project off but now that i’m in the midst of it i find it oddly therapeutic.  i also started assembling her play kitchen today so i hope to finish that after i finish blogging.

speaking of her play kitchen, i finished refurbishing and putting together penny’s table and chairs set. i used 5 different spray paint colors because i wanted to do color-blocking.

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didn’t they turn out great??  i love the colors that i chose: ballet pink, watermelon, sea glass, white and gold.

materials needed

krylon spray paint

painter’s tape

pencil and eraser

ruler

big pieces of cardboard

i was inspired by a pinterest post on color-blocking ikea latt table and chairs. i measured 4 inches on the table and chairs’ legs and taped them off. then i taped other areas so they could be different colors. this project took a lot longer than i had anticipated. i figured i’d use 1-2 layers, they would dry and i would be able to put them together in 2 days tops. reality: it took about 4-5 days. the white spray paint goes on really thin, and i think the wood absorbs it, because i used up an entire can of spray paint even though i only sprayed 4 small pieces of wood on the chairs! i also used the white spray paint for the play kitchen so i’m on my third can now!

anyway, the large pieces of cardboard are to have something to spray and have the pieces of furniture dry on. at first, i used a huge sheet of craft paper but the wet pieces got stuck to the paper and i had to scrape the paper off and respray to get an even look. 😦

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they’re so adorable! i’m so proud of myself 😀

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the furniture was finished in time for penny’s easter portrait 🙂

we went to homegoods on friday to buy black pantyhose but ended up also purchasing a mini armchair and ottoman for $79 – so much cheaper than pottery barn kids and it comes with a a darling footrest! plus, i read feedback from multiple people that homegoods/tj maxx has better quality kids’ chairs than pbk. good to know!

notice the easter canvas? more artwork!

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baby feet are sooooo cute.. penny’s getting ready to dip her feet into paint!

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i used a disposable changing pad to protect the mat (i was going to throw it out anyway so i used that instead of craft paper.) i also had wipes and paper towels ready to quickly clean her feet before washing them with soap and water. it’s so much easier to do footprint art rather than hands because babies arent’t cooperative enough to lay their hands flat for an art project.

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ta-da!

i also made and mailed out easter cards. see below!

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materials needed

card stock

paint & paintbrush

glue

markers and fine-point sharpie pens

googly eyes

border stencil

i wanted the cards to fit in a long envelope so i measured to make sure they would. then i added an elegant touch by only stenciling the bottom.

 

penny rarely wears shoes. she’s not walking yet so what’s the point? more like a waste of money. but she’s standing more now and wearing shoes will help her get used to them. the above picture shows how fascinated she is with her footwear 😉

i hadn’t been to church in a few months because service starts at 10am and that’s during, or just before, penny’s naptime. this past sunday, i brought her after she woke up. we missed the entire service and lunch was al most over but we made it, at least.. and i was able to catch up with friends. i had also seen some the night before because one of our friends had gotten married at the waterview. dennis and i were the last ones off the dance floor, and we have a baby at home!

okay, it’s already 9pm sadly.. and i still need to finish my dinner, complete assembling the play kitchen, and glue some beans. i’m already falling asleep though…

our daughter’s name will be penelope.

we had a girl and boy name picked out a few weeks into my pregnancy so it was either one or the other when we found out the gender. ^_^

I hit the 6 month mark this past Friday. ALREADY. I thought the nine months would drag but it has been flying by. with each passing day, Dennis and I experience feelings of joy and anxiousness. naturally, we are thrilled to be parents but sometimes the prospect of becoming parents terrifies us. I suppose we had a little practice raising a vociferous, energetic pomeranian mix the past four years but a human baby is a different story. never mind worrying if we’re ready because the baby is coming in three months!

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six months!

what’s been helpful during this time is being able to share pregnancy symptoms and my hopes and fears with other expecting moms. one of my good girlfriends is due in early april and she’s been able to give me a heads-up of what to look forward to (or not) in the coming weeks. and it’s also fun to be able to plan things like baby showers and decorating the nursery together. if you ever plan on having a child, try to find a community of moms (and even dads) to share the journey with – being able to swap stories with my friend among others has been greatly beneficial since it’s tough for the father-to-be to truly empathize with the woman’s changing body and what she’s going through no matter how supportive he is. that said, dennis has been so hands-on since day one. these past few months have given me a glimpse of the loving dad that he will be when our baby girl makes her entrance.

dennis and i had long chosen our nursery colors before we knew of the gender. i had been scouring pinterest for inspiration since the day i found out i was pregnant so i’ve had plenty of time to see what colors i wanted. i knew i wanted gray walls – a nice neutral that is modern and chic – and dennis immediately agreed. i also wanted something to make the nursery stand out and was deciding between having an accent wall via a different color or patterned wallpaper or painting stripes on the ceiling. dennis and i settled on the latter because we thought it was such a unique touch. i chose gold which dennis was hesitant about until he painted the ceiling. it is the perfect shade of gold – rich and elegant.

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 we converted the third bedroom into the nursery. the chandelier has been there since we moved in three years ago so we kept it for the nursery, and it’ll be perfect for “princess penelope” as a former colleague put it 🙂

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another panoramic view of the room

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close-up of the chandelier and the gold stripes

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for those of you interested in the colors, here are the paint chips for behr: natural gray and classic gold

before i close, i would like to share one last piece of advice for future parents: remember to relax and still make time for yourselves. not only will you not have the luxury of peace and quiet once the baby arrives but being active helps keep the stress level down for the baby mama and also can help make delivery easier when the time comes. so go out there and have fun when you can… although it’s easier said than done since all i want to do nowadays is veg on the couch…

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yesterday, we went to the uconn vs. cincinnati game in hartford with our friends john and alice. it was an exciting game because it was close the entire time, and uconn won their third game in a row. afterwards, we went to dave & buster’s to eat and play. sad to say, but my arms are sore from an intense sesh of a 4-way air hockey game.

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dennis & me                                                           john & alice