let go, and let God

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d-18 until penny’s party! i think it’s safe to say that the majority of 2016 was spent agonizing over the details of penny’s first birthday. for the most part, i’ve completed the dol towers – all 3 of them – but i still need to do the tops. i need a break from those for now, and there are other pressing matters that i need to attend to.

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for instance, this saturday my friend, mouy, and i were going to make a day trip up to boston to drop some decor off at my parents’ house. dennis and i already have so much to bring up (i.e pack and play, stroller, etc.) the day before the party so we wanted to make sure we have enough room in the car. i had to postpone this trip because i realized that my idea for a backdrop isn’t going to work because it’ll be too big to transport even in an suv. so, i was left scrambling for alternative ideas. genie assisted in helping narrow down the options, and saturday will be spent (hopefully) starting and completing the backdrop with the help of two friends!

a lot has happened since the last post. penny’s first tooth is finally trying to break through! we can see, and feel, the top of a tooth on her bottom gum. she’s been fussy during the daytime lately but usually during mealtimes. she’d rather play than sit in a high chair… she’s still sleeping very well at night so we haven’t noticed any changes (thank goodness).

penny had also outgrown her car seat a while ago but we kept putting off purchasing a convertible seat because we figured she would be okay until her first birthday. but then we noticed her feet were sticking out from the car seat more than they had been, and we read an article that a fellow parent had shared in a parenthood group on facebook about switching to convertible seats sooner rather than later. dennis had taken a picture from the newest edition of the baby bargains book and the britax boulevard clicktight was the best-rated of the bunch, so we went with that. it arrived yesterday and we can tell penny is already much more comfortable in it. we already took her to the pool for a family swim, cheesecake factory for dinner, and to the grocery store.


our friends, esther and william, came down from massachusetts with baby olivia (aka ollie) to visit us a few weeks ago. this is olivia k., not olivia g. (genie’s “olivia.” 😀 – a very popular name this year!) it was super sweet of them to make that drive to come see us and we all had a wonderful time. we joked that the boys seemed to enjoy the play date the most but in all seriousness i think they did. they played table tennis, ps4, and basketball while esther and i … played with the babies -_- no, but still, i’m glad dennis had fun because he doesn’t really get to “play” much and i enjoyed my time with esther just having girl talk.

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dennis’ 31st birthday was on the 17th and he spent the day golfing with his buddies. he ended up being late for a family dinner but he had had a great day, so that’s all that matters.

after an enjoyable weekend with friends, dennis and i realized how we need to take more time to take care of ourselves, and have fun too. as much as penny is the light of our lives, we can’t forgot to “treat” ourselves and go out once in a while without her. yes, we’ve been on a few vacations since penny was born but a date night needs to happen more often. being home with penny all day, i sometimes forget how deprived i am of adult interaction. thankfully, my in-laws live nearby so usually they can take care of penny if i have dates with friends.

i was able to catch up with two friends that i worked with a few years ago. one recently got married and the other is getting married in july. we went out for happy hour and just laughed and laughed about our teaching experiences.. while also griping about the education system.

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i guess i’ll make light of it even though it’s a heavy topic but i got laid off recently. connecticut, like all of the other states, has had a major cut in their budgets for schools so teachers are getting laid off and schools are closing. the town that i’m working in laid off 17 teachers (it actually became 15 because 2 resigned) and may even close one elementary school. it’s all by seniority and i missed the cut-off date by two months. truthfully, i was upset (and shocked) and even cried although i had been feeling ambivalent about returning in the fall. it’s more of a pride thing, you know?

so many friends, and of course dennis above all, have been sending love and offered encouraging words like how i get to spend even more time with penny. plus, i can always work somewhere else. two teachers have been rehired in the meantime and i’m actually third in line to be called back so there’s a possibility. i fervently believe everything happens for a reason so i’m letting go, and letting God.

oh! another important event occurred that weekend: penny’s cake smash! i’ll actually not go into too much detail here because it’ll end up being a l o n g post with a plethora of pictures.. so i’ll save that for the next post, but.. it went well and i’m glad it’s done and over with! i’ll share a few pictures here for those that were not able to view them on facebook. again, i’ll go into specifics in the next post and share how i created a “home studio” and made a giant cupcake. we saved a lot of money this way!

until then, enjoy these adorable pictures 🙂

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vegas getaway

first of all, happy 1st birthday to avery!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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flying over the rockies..?

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

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aria

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

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

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

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the courtyard

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

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flaky almond croissant and croque monsieur sandwich from jean-philippe

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

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pretty treats from jean-phillippe

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adorable cupcakes from bachannal

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on our way to bachannal

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

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

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the basics for a day walking around town

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visiting “paris”

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the girls before our dinner at javier’s

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

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

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

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

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

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zarkana

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

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

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

 

 

 

“ohana” means “family”

it’s been a busy month, clearly. i was surprised to see that i hadn’t updated my blog in two weeks.

the sleep regression finally ended about a week and a half ago. penny is back to sleeping about 12 hours a night with one feeding around 3am. thing is, she started a new leap recently (that will last a MONTH!). with every development leap, come the 3 c’s: cranky, clingy, and crying. i still get impressed with how accurate the ‘wonder weeks app’ is at describing the abilities penny will pick up during this phase, and what signs are indicative of her leap.

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perfecting her grip... hmm, a future pharmacist like dad??

perfecting her grip… hmm, a future pharmacist like dad??

visit daddy at work

visit daddy at work

for instance, one sign of penny’s leap (“relationships”) is that she will “sleep less, sleep worse, and eat less.” she sleeps fine at night (thank god!) but her naps have been affected, mostly her second nap which used to be 2-3 hours. now, i’m lucky if i can get her to sleep 1.5 hours for her second nap. on days that she naps poorly, i try to squeeze in a fourth nap to compensate for her long awake time between her third nap and bedtime but most days it’s unsuccessful. she will fight me tooth and nail to stay up; it’s as if she knows she shouldn’t be taking a fourth nap.

i also don’t want to push up bedtime because she hasn’t been eating much during the day. some days she’ll have consumed less than 10 oz total and it’s 4pm! she’s been teething recently so it’s uncomfortable for her to eat but it’s also because of her leap. the good thing is that penny ends up consuming large amounts in a short period of time just before bedtime. it’s as if she knows she has to sleep a long stretch and she really should eat. the other night, she ate 9.25 oz an hour before she passed out! i never know how much she’ll eat so i just have milk ready for her and refill the bottle as i go. again, i’m just relieved her nighttime sleep isn’t affected.

speaking of sleep, daylight savings ends this upcoming sunday. supposedly, we gain an hour of sleep but this is so not true for parents. we’re up whenever the baby is up. still, there are preventative measures to keep your baby from waking up at 5:30am and wanting to party.

this article informs us how to make sure your baby doesn’t confuse the time change come next sunday. a week before daylight savings ends, you push back your child’s bedtime in 10-15-minute increments every night or every other night. penny has been going to bed around 6:30, if not sooner, recently so tuesday night i put her to bed at 6:50pm instead of 6:30pm. last night was 7:07pm, and tonight was 7:15pm.  it’s already working because she’s waking up a little later to nurse for the motn (middle of the night) feeding and also for the day. hopefully by the time sunday morning rolls around she will wake up at 7am instead of 6am. this’ll mean that i may have to put her to bed closer to 8pm on saturday night which is really late for her.. i’m worried about keeping her up and making her overtired especially with penny rejecting the fourth nap. i guess that’s why the article suggests short increments so the baby gradually gets used to having the bedtime extended. we’ll see how this goes *fingers crossed*

i’ve been working on this post since yesterday. my sister came down tuesday night to visit and stayed until 4:30pm today. i’m really thankful my sister was able to visit for a few days not only to help take care of penny but also for the adult company. my parents and sister actually came down to visit last friday and brought a ton of food from the restaurant and home. hard to believe, but they hadn’t seen penny since penny’s 100th day celebration back in august! even though they live only an hour and a half away, they’re so busy tending to their businesses they don’t have much time for anything else. i do hope my parents can find more time to visit though. they were amazed at how much penny has grown, but they’re also wistful that they missed out on so much already. that’s why my sister decided to visit again – she doesn’t want to keep missing penny’s milestones and developmental growths, or have her be a stranger to penny.

dad feeding penny

dad feeding penny

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so curious

so curious

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she LOVES her rainforest jumperoo

she LOVES her rainforest jumperoo

penny and i worked on halloween crafts several days ago. we created halloween cards using her hand-and-foot prints.

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today, genie and olivia came over for a play date. it had been a few weeks since i had seen them both so it was great to catch up. olivia can now sit up unassisted and has two teeth! so many changes in such a short amount of time… we plan to get together soon work on christmas crafts! can’t wait!

olivia :)

olivia 🙂

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penny has been aware of, and tracking, yuri for quite some time now but she also gets so amused by her. she’ll laugh and kick her legs whenever she sees yuri. what’s funny is that olivia is just as entertained by yuri. we noticed today that olivia would laugh and get excited whenever she spotted yuri; it was the cutest thing. at one point, both girls kept staring at yuri but she could care less. in fact, she hates it when penny tries to pet her no matter how gently she does it.. i think it’s because she’s still a bit jealous of penny.

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face/off

face/off

speaking of ‘olivia’, my friend, esther, became a first-time mom to a baby girl, olivia, three weeks ago. now i have two baby mama friends with daughters named olivia. congratulations, esther and william! here’s a picture of the beautiful family 🙂

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although i take pictures, and record videos, of penny nearly every day i have very little photos of penny with both dennis and me. i asked dennis to take photos of me with penny, and a neighbor walking by with her dog asked if we wanted family photos. of course we do! hoping we can take some decent photos soon for christmas cards as well.

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happy (?) 4 months

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

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

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a very happy baby

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staring at the mobile over her crib

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

as mouy said it

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

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

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

about to leave for church

about to leave for church

ben & olivia

ben & olivia

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

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

happy 65th birthday :)

happy 65th birthday 🙂

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playing with penny before her bedtime

playing with penny before her bedtime

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

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dennis thinks it looks like she’s waving ^^

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she loves putting her fist in her mouth

awww

awww

yuri wanted to be with her

yuri wanted to be with her