long winter days and nights

i believe in process. i believe in four seasons. i believe that winter’s tough, but spring’s coming. i believe that there’s a growing season. and i think that you realize that in life, you grow. you get better.

~ steve southerland

this quote is so on point. winter can be dreary, depressing, and drags on for what seems like an eternity in new england. and as much as i complain about the cold and being trapped indoors, i do like the snow. it’s so pure, bright, and pretty. i also like how it creates a soft blanket over everything. still, cold weather does not equal snow unfortunately because snow, to me, justifies the frigid temperatures.

 

i used to think winter made me appreciate my favorite season, summer, more but as i grow older, i’m not quite certain about that. i get cold easily even in the summer time so staying warm during winter has its challenges. lately, we’ve had extremely frosty temperatures with wind chills in the negatives. it literally hurt to be outdoors, just to get out of the car and run inside a store. now we are back to “normal” new england winter temperatures although friday was a balmy 60 degrees.

 

saturday, january 13: we beat cabin fever by going to the mall to ride the carousel. this was ezra’s first time riding an animal. the other times, he sat in the seat with grandma.

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friday, january 12. penny enjoyed splashing through the puddles in her hunter boots after a playgroup at a local school. she’s eating goldfish crackers from a cup.

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the warm weather + rain melted most of the snow away on friday

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there actually is a thing called the winter blues, or seasonal affective disorder. i feel like i’m much happier during spring and summer when there is more sunlight and warmth. i’m also probably more cheerful during these seasons because we aren’t confined indoors resigned to do the same activities over and over. who knows? maybe if i lived in sunny california, i’d be happy year-round… but nothing is ever perfect. california lately has been besieged with natural disasters such as wildfires and mudslides, so there’s no escaping the force of mother nature.

white christmas! these photos are long overdue!

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this photo was featured on the ig page: moms with cameras

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eating snow!

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it’s been rough over here in the so household for the past couple weeks. the kids had been sick which is no fun for anyone. penny’s congestion finally fully cleared up on wednesday but ezra still has a rattling sound when he breathes. he’s also teething so he’s been incessantly drooling. (his third tooth erupted yesterday.)

our daily struggles mostly concern miss p: being nice and sharing toys with ezra, using words to communicate instead of crying and whining, and eating. p lost nearly a pound while she was sick because of her refusal to eat most foods. now the weight difference between p and ezra are 1.6 lb. i weighed ezra the other day and he was 24.2 lb! i believe some of p’s emotional outbursts are because she’s hangry, but who really knows?! mealtimes have been a battle these days but now that she’s feeling a lot better she’s starting to eat more again.

on a positive note, a big milestone occurred today: penny used the potty on her own for the first time! while i was cooking dinner, penny announced she had to go potty and walked to the bathroom. my in-laws were over for dinner and we all thought penny was just pretending, but when my fil went over to check she had pulled down her pants and had already peed on the potty! when i walked over to see for myself, she had already finished wiping! i’m so proud of this girl!

it’s day 14 of the new year and so much has happened already. ezra is 9 months old; i went to a preschool fair to start preparing penny for preschool; i’m planning ezra’s first birthday (and penny’s 3rd birthday, already!); and preparing for our cancun trip in march! oh, and i also started a book club! that, i will go into detail in my next post. i want to finish this post so i can start reading tonight.

stay warm, friends.

 

milestones

in my last post, the tone and mood was that of despair and frustration. one of the hardest things a first-time mom can experience is breastfeeding. we hear how wonderful and natural it is, but don’t realize how painful and difficult it can actually be until we have a baby of our own.

so much has changed since that fateful entry. to ease the suffering and quicken up the healing process i took a break from breastfeeding – this lasted from sunday evening to early friday morning. in the meantime, i pumped and penny was bottle-fed. during this short period of time, i was happier than i had been since penny was born! it really goes to show how much of a toll breastfeeding had taken on me. “my girls” were also able to heal effectively and i slept much better at night (without pain, i might add).

also during this time, penny began consuming 4 oz. of breast milk. i could never tell how much she ate when i breast fed her but i was able to see that she was eating more (up from 3 oz.) initially, i was worried because i thought she may be overeating. the downsides of bottle feeding is that babies can overeat since the flow is faster from the bottle than from the breast, and the milk can pour down their throat. we try to fill the nipple halfway with milk (per the lactation consultant) to mimic breastfeeding. a sign of overeating is spit-up.  babies tend to spit up after feedings, but copious amounts can signal that a baby ate too much. penny has also been really gassy lately (another downside of bottle feeding) even though we give her gas drops and hold her upright for at least 15 minutes after feedings. still, we have seen improvement and her appetite is as strong as ever.

currently, penny is 5 weeks and at her 1 month check-up she weighed 9 lb. 11 oz! She most likely has surpassed the 10 pound mark by now.

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this boppy lounger has resulted in less spit-ups because she isn’t laying flat on her back. i know that babies aren’t supposed to sleep on them for safety reasons but she is usually about 4~5 feet away from me and we constantly watch her like a hawk.

as for breastfeeding, i decided in the wee hours of friday morning that i would give it another go. i eased into it using a nipple shield and was extremely relieved that it didn’t hurt as much as before. it was still sore afterwards but there wasn’t any excruciating pain, and there hasn’t been since. now, i’ve been using a shield every time because it’s much easier for penny to latch (saves me the pain too!) using a shield can cause discomfort for the baby because they take in more air when breastfeeding. this just means i have to be more vigilant about burping her often.

penny has been fighting sleep lately so i’m still very much sleep-deprived but i am absolutely grateful to be free of pain from breastfeeding. i honestly thought i would have to give up breastfeeding. there’s nothing wrong with bottle feeding (we still give her the occasional bottle to give me a break) but i don’t like the hassle of having to warm up a bottle and pumping constantly to have the supply ready. i still pump so i can add to my stash for when i return to work, but less frequently than before. really, there are upsides and downsides to both bf and bottle-feeding; i’m just happy to have the option of doing both again.

another milestone that penny has reached is that she social smiles! newborns smile in their early days but it’s really a reflex and not a genuine smile. however, we noticed that penny has been truly smiling since about week 3. we can see the expression in her eyes and her smiles are a response to ours. she also smiles a lot while bf when she’s half asleep. a few times, i have heard her laugh and my heart swelled.

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i caught her smiling in her sleep!

penny has also begun focusing more on objects. in her pack ‘n play, there are 3 plush stars that hang down and she tends to look at them when she’s laying down in it. she also took notice of the chandelier in her room early this morning when i was putting her down for a nap. as i walked around, her gaze kept following the chandelier. a few hours later, i was holding her in the sun room and her attention was on the ceiling fan; so, i turned it on for her so she could see it in motion.

she has also been more alert (as noted by the decrease in naps). she still needs to nap frequently since she’s still a newborn but when she is awake, she’s more active lately. i take advantage of that by playing with her. as soon as i see her giving me cues that she’s tired (i.e eyes slowly closing, rubbing eyes, less focused) i stop play immediately and start putting her down for a nap – this is usually me rocking her while playing white noise in the background. lately, i’ve also swaddled her and held her to encourage sleep.

yesterday was father’s day and i made sure the first one was special for dennis. i ordered a onesie from etsy for penny to wear. unfortunately, dennis was already on his way to work when i was changing penny so i just took a pic of her and sent it to him. i think it made his work day that much better!

isn't it cute?

isn’t it cute?

we received two handprint kits as gifts, and dennis and i had made imprints of penny’s hand and feet about a week ago. without his knowledge, i painted the handprint one and wrote a message on it for father’s day.

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it was tough pressing her little hand into the mold since she has her hands clenched into fists most of the time. this was the best we could do!

another gift i made for dennis was 3 portraits of penny holding up letters to spell ‘dad’.

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i did everything myself on saturday. she was in a good mood after a feeding so i quickly put a headband on her and arranged the letters.

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dennis' reaction

dennis’ reaction

the last milestone has to do with our dog, yuri. saturday, 6/20, was her fifth birthday and we wanted to make sure we didn’t forget it.. especially since all the attention we used to lavish on her has gone over to the baby… it’s obvious that yuri is more despondent and needy lately. she follows me around everywhere even when i’m feeding penny (although late at night, she stays in bed with dennis).

yuri with her scrumptious dinner

yuri with her scrumptious dinner

we used to get her special treats and a cake from a dog bakery but she doesn’t really like them. she’s more of a meat girl.

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lastly, this is what we had for dinner last night! dennis’ parents came over, and my mil made bibimbap for us. it’s a korean dish with a variety of vegetables mixed with white rice and sweet chili paste. it’s also great topped with a fried egg. we didn’t have a gift for my fil but we are going to present one to him later on today. we got him a really nice bicycle. since he’s been retired, he’s been mostly homebound save for the occasional bike ride. we hope that this will encourage him to get outdoors more often 🙂

speaking of outdoors, today is dennis’ day off and we are going to meet up with the gardners later on. the boys plan to go bike-riding at west hartford reservoir while the girls take a stroll either at the same place or blue back square, a shopping plaza. we’re really on our babies’ schedules so hopefully we can work this out!

penelope, where art thou?

d+5 – penelope was due may 8th, and here we are five days later still waiting for her arrival. in all honesty, i had a feeling she wouldn’t arrive before the 12th. why the 12th? i had been keeping track of my cycle using an app called ‘pink pad’ since may 2014 and discovered that i have a longer cycle than the average woman. when doctors guess the baby’s due date, it really is just guessing since it’s quite difficult to know when exactly a woman conceived. knowing that i have a longer cycle, i also knew that i ovulated later so i calculated that my due date is actually may 12th. well, today is the 13th and she’s late anyway but that’s fairly typical of first babies.

i know she’ll come out when she’s ready but it’s been difficult sleeping at night these past several days wondering if she’ll finally make her grand debut. in the meantime, i have been relishing my time alone with dennis, and yuri. pretty soon, yuri won’t be an only “child” so the three of us have been busying ourselves with activities. staying active is a great way to not only get your mind off the baby but to also keep your body in shape for labor and delivery.

40 weeks & 4 days

40 weeks & 4 days

yesterday, dennis and i went to the gym. i walked on the treadmill for half an hour at varying degrees of incline and speed. when i’m home, i also walk yuri often and use a step tracker via iphone to encourage physical activity. after the treadmill, i used light weights to tone my arms. i’m very much looking forward to getting back in shape for the summer and i have slowly been buying new pieces to add to my wardrobe as motivation.

i’m also looking forward to pairing my outfits with these lovely flats i received for my first mother’s day gift:

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these white tory burch flats are perfect for summer, and the perforated material allows circulation as well. i recently purchased white espadrille wedges and white chuck taylors as well.. going through a shoe binge right now.

after the gym, we took yuri for a walk at the rails to trails hiking trail in our town. she enjoyed being off-leash and exploring the grounds.

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another recent outing was to bigelow state park. until today, the weather had been hot and in the upper 70s to 80s so we took great advantage of that. unfortunately, the pollen has been unforgiving to dennis (i have only suffered having itchy eyes now and then) but he’s been a trouper.

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if you have the opportunity to start maternity leave before the baby’s due date, take advantage of quality time that you have with your significant other because once the baby arrives, everything will be about the baby. of course as the baby gets older and a schedule is somewhat established (or the semblance of one), it’ll be easier to make dates with friends and have date nights but the first few weeks will be about adjusting to a new lifestyle.

one suggestion is to pamper yourself with a manicure & pedicure. i’m not one of those girls that gets a manicure every week; in fact, i’m fairly certain i haven’t had one all winter. and it was a l-o-n-g winter. ladies, you’ll probably be in the delivery room for a while and i, for one, don’t want to be embarrassed of my calloused and rough feet that had been in hibernation mode (although dignity flies out the window once you’re in a hospital gown, screaming and sweating) all winter. just a simple mani/pedi helped preoccupy my mind and made me feel better about myself – your body goes through so many changes and it’s easy to feel unattractive and undesirable.

disappointingly enough, i wasn’t satisfied with the mani/pedi service i received at korean-owned nail salon in downtown west hartford. the massage and exfoliation was great (to the point that i was being lulled to sleep) but the workmanship was shoddy. last night, i repainted my nails using two colors that my sister gifted me: good as gold & eternal optimism. blush & gold, a trendy combo at the moment and also part of penelope’s nursery scheme.

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even though i’m very anxious for penelope to be here i am still grateful that i can have the energy and time to do ordinary tasks like updating my blog and watching tv without worrying about a baby quite yet.

let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

our dog is normally great about waiting to, er, shall we say, relieve herself until either dennis or i get out of bed. we know she really has to go if she jumps out of bed and starts pacing which is what she did on saturday morning. then she started hinting even more by jumping on the couch and looking out the window at the freshly fallen snow. light began flooding the room because she pushed aside the curtains and we couldn’t ignore her any longer.

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catering to our dog is not much to complain about. when our baby arrives, we’ll be in a sleep-deprived state of mind most of the time so taking care of yuri is cake. we’ll just have to make sure she doesn’t get jealous of the baby :X as i type this, she is curled up on my lap…

much of connecticut received 5-8 inches of snow yesterday. dennis and i were going to visit my grandma in massachusetts because she recently had a hip surgery at 93(!), but the treacherous roads kept us at home. we enjoyed each other’s company instead by playing in the snow, dancing to bruno mars’ uptown funk in the kitchen, and eating homemade brunch together

putting our selfie stick to use

putting our selfie stick to use

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she loves daddy

she loves daddy

faceplant, lol

faceplant, lol

great recovery

great recovery

awesome still from a video

awesome still from a video

heading back

heading back

chocolate chip pancakes with powdered sugar, eggs with baby arugula and bacon

chocolate chip pancakes with powdered sugar, eggs with baby arugula and bacon

after we ate, all three of us relaxed in the living room: dennis read a magazine and i read the newspaper in front of a blazing fireplace. we slowly drifted to sleep and fell asleep for about an hour and a half.

we woke up like this

we woke up like this

in the evening, we visited our friend, genie, who is about 31 weeks pregnant. her husband, ben, works for espn and is away in arizona until february 2nd to work at the superbowl. we went to her house to shovel her driveway (rather, dennis shoveled and i took yuri for a walk) before she came home from work. then we all ate individual pizzas from california pizza kitchen and watched dawn of the planet of the apes. it turned out to be an entertaining movie even without, sadly, james franco.

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2 preggo ladies

2 preggo ladies

my friend, almex, works for sho eyeworks, a company that sells eyeglasses and sunglasses. recently, he hooked me up with a pair of shades that has clear frames.

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they are lightweight and comfortable, and also retail for around $52!

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mine are the ivan in matte crystal gray seen here

if you are interested in any of the products, please let me know so i can contact my friend! enjoy the last moments of your weekend 🙂