days go by

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

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

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

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painting a pouch

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recent snow day

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

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

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

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nice action shot

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

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

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

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K combing Ezra’s hair 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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new england air museum

if you haven’t yet visited the new england air museum, it’s definitely worth checking out. i’m constantly on the look-out for new places to bring penny and the neam has always been in the back of my mind. i first heard about it through my town library. many libraries offer discounts to museums and parks by requesting a pass in advance. admission for adults is normally $12.50 but with a library pass it was half off. kids 3 and under are free. i wasn’t sure how penny would like the museum even though she absolutely loves airplanes because, well, it’s a museum. however, i read so many rave reviews from people that had brought their toddlers and children so i decided to give it a shot.

the museum is located in windsor locks, ct so it was a half hour drive from our home. the hours are 10am-5pm every day but starting in september they will be closed on mondays. initially we had planned on going after penny’s nap but with possible t-storms and rush hour traffic, we decided to go right when it opened. it ended up working out because ezra woke up for the day a little before 8am so we kept him up and he snoozed a little on the way to the museum.

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we ended up arriving ten minutes early so we walked around the nearly empty parking lot and checked out the airplanes that were on display behind a fenced area. the museum is near bradley international airport so we were able to see a southwest airplane take off.

once inside, you are greeted with a display of model airplanes hanging on the ceiling. there is also a gift shop next to the ticket counter so we checked out the items while we waited for karen and parker. of course, we bought penny a few items: a southwest airplane set, a model airplane that moves and makes noises, a glider, and a museum magnet for myself.

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walking around and checking out the cool airplanes and helicopters is one thing, but several of them allow people to climb aboard and sit in the cockpit. this was definitely a hit with the kiddos. i even enjoyed sitting in the pilot seat and playing with the buttons.

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the museum has quite a collection of planes and copters and the exhibits are always changing. they are also in the midst of renovating some of the space. in addition, there’s a kidsport where you can learn how to make different kinds of paper airplanes, watch interactive videos on planes, and dress up in pilot gear.

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the fenced in area that we had seen from the parking lot is also accessible through one of the exhibit rooms. we did go outside to look at a few planes but it was so humid that we retreated back into the air-conditioned museum.

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even though ezra didn’t nap at all he was in great spirits, smiling and babbling away. he did get really cranky near the end so my mil took him out of the car seat to walk around with him. penny started getting a little tired and hangry as well but snacking on grapes helped her calm down near the end of the visit. we stayed for about an hour and 15 minutes. it was a wonderful way to spend the morning, and i’m really glad that the trip was a success.

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thunder has been rolling before i even started writing this blog post so a big storm seems imminent. both kids fell asleep for their nap at the same time so i have a bit of quiet time here which is why i’m updating my blog. if i don’t do it now, it’ll probably not get published for another week, at least.

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the next event we are looking forward to is going up to massachusetts this weekend to celebrate my sister’s birthday. i can’t believe it’s already august!

playdates & playmates

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every day i wrack my brain on things penny and i can do for the day. lately it’s been too cold in the mornings to go out for a walk; and penny has actually been refusing to go out too. i don’t blame her – we interrupt her morning play by trying to force her in a stroller. (this morning however she asked to go outside which was great since the temperature was in the 50s. gotta take advantage!)

when i come up with different activities such as a trip to the library, mall, or arts & crafts i do my best to spread them out during the week so we have something to do every day to pass the time. not only that but if i know for sure my mil is coming over that day or dennis has the day off, i’ll plan an activity such as going to the museum so i have an extra person to help me with penny. penny’s nap time is spent getting her snacks, drinks, and diaper bag ready so when she wakes up we can just go.

here’s our itinerary for the week of 10/30~11/5:

sunday: playdate with olivia l. (kidcity museum)

monday: halloween! family photos in the morning and trick-or-treating in the evening with grandparents

tuesday: create a fall picture using felt and glitter stickers of pumpkins, leaves, and flowers.

wednesday: paint a pumpkin

thursday: toddler sense class (9:30~10am) & the library in the afternoon

friday: introduce new activity – putting colored bean bags in a homemade sorter

saturday: my friend, katie, is visiting for the day

as you can see, these are fairly simple activities. you don’t have to go all out for a toddler since their attention span is so short anyway. think of things that your little one likes to do and create activities around their interests.

i mentioned in another post that penny really likes to color and play with stickers. what better way to get her artistic side out and have fun than creating collages and pictures? i finally ordered a long-sleeve smock for penny last night. every day she asks to use the paint and i say “no” because of the mess. she doesn’t ask after i say “no” the first time but i feel bad because i know she likes to feel the paint between her fingers. even though i don’t have the smock yet, i set aside a button-down shirt that i rarely wear for penny to use today when we paint a pumpkin. i also have rolls of craft paper that i will spread out on the wood floor to catch most of the paint.

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this was tuesday’s activity. penny placed stickers on card stock and i drew a fall scene afterwards.

penny also really enjoys her toddler sense class. last week she played with jello! there were other things for her to do but she spent the majority of the time squishing jello between her fingers. she didn’t put any in her mouth but, then again, she usually doesn’t put things in her mouth. tomorrow is the last class which i’m really bummed about. there is supposed to be another session starting soon that includes older kids so hopefully that’s an option.

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dot-painting is offered every class and penny really likes it. i’ve been holding off on purchasing them so they can be one of her stocking stuffers 🙂

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this past weekend was daddy’s weekend off, so we kept busy! on friday we met up with our friends mouy, cali, and tristan at the connecticut science center. we are all members and it’s so worth it! this was our family’s 4th time going.

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penny loves cars!

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she also likes sliding down this ramp

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tristan braving the hurricane room

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and the snake =X

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she loves to drive

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penny’s driving and tristan is shifting gears. it’s called teamwork!

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popping balloons

having fun with the 360 camera

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having fun with the 360 camera

 

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dennis and i went to a wedding on saturday (i’ll have to share photos from that day as well as alice and john’s wedding too!) so we were gone all day while mil watched penny.

on sunday, we had a playdate with a friend from our neighborhood, olivia l. (penny has 3 friends named olivia and this one is 21 months.) it was our second time going to kidcity museum and olivia’s first time! olivia’s family enjoyed it so much they purchased a membership!

we actually arrived there an hour before olivia and her family so we had checked most of the rooms out by the time they arrived but they still spent an hour together, and we went back to the medieval room to show them how cool it is.

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some scenes in penny’s life:

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first snow of the season: 0ctober 27, 2016

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trying out the potty

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she likes to give the lamb rocker kisses and climbs on it by herself to rock back and forth

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for the longest time, this truck scared her because of the loud noises it makes when the red button is pushed. she took it out on her own one day and started playing with it. she still hates the button though.

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she loves to eat gim (toasted kelp)

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tummy time 🙂

penny’s been having bad dreams lately and she’ll cry out at night. she was fine last night but a few nights ago she was crying every hour from 2am on. we haven’t had to go in to soothe her because she’ll fall back asleep after crying for a few minutes; but it does make us sad, and tired! i know she isn’t having night terrors because the first time she’ll cry is usually around 2am and night terrors occur a few hours after bedtime (and usually because they’re overtired).

her naps are usually good ~ about 2.5-3 hours but sometimes they’re 1.5 hours on a “bad day.” this is when her second sleep cycle ends so sometimes she’ll wake up especially if there were loud noises outside like a lawn mower. she actually just woke up after napping for 1.5 hours a few minutes ago. this loud truck kept rumbling by and it drove by again right at the end of her sleep cycle so i’m guessing it roused her from her sleep. i know she won’t go back to sleep but i’m going to leave her in there for another half hour so i can close my eyes. it’s only 1:30pm and i’m alone all day so the second half of the day is going to be another long one 😦

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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rolling with the punches

penny’s growth spurt has ended! it lasted from july 31-august 6. i was able to figure out the dates through the baby tracker app. since i log every time i feed penny, i noticed that during those 7 days, penny’s total time spent nursing/feeding was about 2.5~3 hours a day. normally, she feeds for 1.5 hours a day. at her last checkup, she was nearly 12.5 lb.. surely she must be 13 lb. by now!

yet another way i could tell that her growth spurt had ended was that she returned to her regular sleeping schedule. i began sleep training her at 2.5 months to get her acclimated to having a sleep schedule. newborns don’t really have a schedule but as penny is nearly at the infant stage it was important to start getting her used to sleeping at certain times so she won’t be overtired. she began going to bed around 9-10pm around two weeks ago but i noticed that she would barely nap the last 3 or 4 hours before her unofficial bedtime. this alarmed me because she was so overtired and wasn’t easy to put down. we slowly started moving her bedtime to 8:30, then to 8, and now she sleeps anywhere from 6:30-7pm. it has worked out well for all of us because penny isn’t exhausted and we aren’t eating dinner separately or late because of her late bedtime.

it also helps to have a bedtime routine. ours is feed/bath/*feed/bed. when i nurse her, i try to do it in her nursery with only the lamp on (not the chandelier) and piano music playing in the background (along with the white noise) to get her ready for bed. thankfully she loves baths and is very calm in the tub. we sing and talk to her (and then soothe her once she’s out because she hates getting out of the tub!) while giving her a massage to help her relax even more. afterwards, we apply lotion to her entire body and put a fresh diaper and an undershirt on. usually by this time, she is tired so we haven’t successfully been able to read a bedtime story to her. (i was actually able to read one to her tonight so i hope to incorporate that into the routine.) the last feed is optional as she may still be full but i do offer it so she’ll be more content and sleep longer. lastly, we give her a pacifier and her eyes immediately start getting heavy. then we place her in the magic merlin suit (more on this in my next post) and rock her until she falls asleep. recently, she’s been passing out in our arms in ten minutes or less… i hope this continues.

due to penny’s earlier bedtime, dennis and i have been able to spend more alone time with one another which we truly appreciate. we are eating dinner at a more reasonable time and also unwinding by watching tv and talking to one another. my sister turned 30 last week, and i organized a dinner for 8 people to help her celebrate. while dennis and i got ready, my sister and mil gave penny a bath and got her ready for bedtime. then we all left while my mil rocked her to sleep. lo and behold, she passed out around 7pm.

happy birthday, jen!

happy birthday, jen!

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i think brendan, jen’s bf, told us to do tiger claws

the boys came out too!

the boys came out too!

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even though her growth spurt ended a few days ago, she still has not been her usual self because she has also been going through a developmental leap. the current one that she is on, and will be ending tomorrow, is “smooth transitions.”

after going through this leap some of the things that penny may be able to do are:

  • follow something with her eyes in a fluid motion √
  • turn her head in a fluid motion when following something √
  • more lively, more active, squirms, and is turning in all directions √
  • rolls from tummy to back (with a little help) – i’ve been doing lots of tummy time with her to keep strengthening her neck and core. she hasn’t been able to roll over on her own yet but she’s not quite 3 months yet so we’ll keep practicing!
  • shakes a rattle – she’s definitely grabbing objects more often and moving them around but hasn’t shaken a rattle
  • discovers new possibilities of the voice such as cooing, screaming, and crowing √
  • blows saliva bubbles √
  • clearly shows in her behavior when she finds something funny or interesting √
  • clearly enjoys light bulbs slowly illuminating from soft to bright – we don’t have a dimmer so i can’t try this out but she loves looking at light fixtures so i turn them on and off for her to observe.
  • clearly enjoys sounds that gradually go from high to low or vice versa – i haven’t experienced with volume yet but i do play music when she’s awake to have her exposed to background noise and different genres.
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look at her grabbing toys!

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tummy time!

tummy time!

penny actually hates tummy time so i do it when she's in a good mood after nursing.

penny actually hates tummy time so i do it when she’s in a good mood after nursing.

practicing sitting up with her new sit-me-up chair

practicing sitting up with her new sit-me-up chair

since she’s learning so much, she has been exhibiting typical symptoms of this leap which are crying more often, longer, and harder; wanting to drink more; wanting more physical contact; withdrawn (often); thumb sucking (often); and quieter and/or less mobile behavior. besides the last one, penny has been showing all these symptoms for the past two weeks. she prefers being with either me or dennis probably since she sees us the most. even with my mil, she had been fussing when being held by her. but sometimes she doesn’t like to be held; she actually really enjoys lying on her back and observing everything around her.

this past saturday we ventured to new jersey to attend an annual pool party at our friends’ parents’ home. initially we decided not to go because of the long commute but changed our minds so that we wouldn’t be so tied down by penny. the more we expose her to car rides, the outdoors, and other people the better she’ll be able to cope and to take naps on-the-go (something that she’s struggling with as she’s used to napping at home in her dark room with the white noise on.)

her brief nap on the way down to nj

her brief nap on the way down to nj

well, what should have been a 2.5 hour car ride one way turned out to be 4 because of traffic and two pit stops to nurse and change diapers. needless to say, penny barely napped on the way down so she was super cranky… and then we brought her to a brand-new place that was blaring music and had tons of people milling around. she started crying hysterically right away. As a result, dennis and i spent the majority of the time indoors because every time we stepped outdoors, she would freak out (the loud music didn’t help). she was calm, and even napped, for a little while when dennis wore her in the baby bjorn but after she woke up, it was game over. it was disappointing that we didn’t get to swim or really enjoy ourselves but we did get to mingle and catch up with friends we hadn’t seen in a while. we only stayed for 3 hours before heading home (penny’s bedtime is 7pm and it would take us 2.5 hours to get home). she actually slept on the way home because she was so exhausted and ended up sleeping for 8.5 hours that night.

i’m thinking she was extra sensitive because she’s going through her leap but she’s a fairly sensitive baby to begin with. one example is that we change her diaper often because she can wake up early from naps even with a slightly wet diaper. she also LOVES diaper changes by the way. she will lie there smiling happily and kicking because she’s looking forward to getting a fresh diaper;  it’s pretty cute.

penny and i are meeting up with genie and olivia for another playdate tomorrow afternoon. we like to meet up at westfarms mall because nordstrom has a mother’s lounge for breastfeeding and pumping.. so convenient.. every place should have one. i get nervous bringing penny out on my own especially since she gets agitated in the car seat (really, i would too if i had to sit there with a sweaty back for hours), but i’m trying to build my confidence so that we both can get used to being out and about. she’s a baby so it won’t really be a smooth outing but as long as i can keep a cool head it’ll be okay. dennis is always telling me to ‘roll with the punches’ and be ready for any outcome because a baby’s behavior is unpredictable. i’ll also be with a friend tomorrow so that makes me feel significantly better.

to the mall we shall go!