just to get by, just to get by…

the title of this post is from a talib kweli song, fyi.

anyway, today was a “snow day.” forecasters had predicted up to 10 inches of snow and most schools closed, but all we received was a few inches of snow; the road is still visible. it was just disappointing because one of our favorite playgroups was canceled so i had to come up with ideas to keep penny entertained at home this morning.

since we hadn’t done any art projects at home lately, i quickly cut up striped tissue paper while penny practiced cutting on a different sheet. then, i gathered other art materials such as a canvas, glue, and a pencil. i drew a heart on the canvas using a pencil and penny squeezed glue on it. i helped her spread the glue out since she likes to squeeze out one giant glob.

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we spent the majority of our morning in the playroom which we hadn’t done in quite some time since penny and i partake in a morning activity every weekday. i always get nervous when i have to be with two kids on my own but it usually ends up being okay – unless penny’s sick or has one of her meltdowns.

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in my last post, i wrote about how penny had started going to the potty on her own. well, she’s still doing it! she will announce she has to go, walk into the bathroom on her own, pull down her pants and underwear and sit down. i was about to put away the small pottys because she had been sitting on the toilet but now i’ll leave them out to encourage her to go by herself.

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we have 4 bathrooms: 2 full and 2 half. she rarely uses the toilet in the master bedroom. in the playroom, we have a toilet seat on top of the toilet and in the upstairs bathroom we just place her on the toilet. she has a potty in her bedroom that she barely uses anymore so we might just put that away until it’s time to potty-train ezra. sometimes i’m still in awe that she’s potty trained. it’s such a huge milestone for toddlers – and definitely not an easy one – but i am so proud of penny. i’m hoping for penny to go to preschool once she turns 3 and having her go to the bathroom on her own is a huge step.

all right, it’s time for both kids to be up so i’ll have to get going. i’m just glad i was able to find time to squeeze in a post so soon after my previous one! i recently started working out again to get ready for my cancun trip so i hope to touch upon that in my next post.

dennis built a fort for the kids last weekend and they loved it. look at ezra’s expressions!

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the every-cheerful ezra. his third tooth broke through last week!

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his favorite song is “곰 새마리” (three bears)

i had wanted a picture of both girls because they wore the same shirt, but, of course, penny wanted no part in it.

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summer daze

although fall doesn’t officially begin until september 22nd, it feels like summer is slowly coming to an end with the start of the school year around the corner. i certainly am relishing the long days and soaking up the last rays of the summer sun. as much as i like snow, i dread being stuck indoors and the sun setting at 4pm. i spent this summer planning activities and trying to coordinate them with my kids’ schedules. we didn’t travel anywhere exotic – even with the kids sleeping well, i wouldn’t quite consider traveling far with a toddler and an infant a “vacation” – nor do anything out of the ordinary, but we shared many laughs and created lasting memories.

one place that i’ve been dying to bring penny to is the dinosaur place in oakdale, ct. it is a 60-acre outdoor adventure park that includes new england’s largest splash pad, a jurassic-themed moon bounce, a maze, and a huge playground. there is also a 1.5 mile trail complete with 40 life-sized dinosaurs! the main reason we waited so long to bring her is the distance: it is nearly an hour away. since the dinosaur place opens at 10am, we would not be able to go in the morning and have enough time for penny to eat lunch, drive back, and take a nap. naturally, we planned for the afternoon. we pushed penny’s nap up so she would wake up earlier in the afternoon. (she still woke up around 2:30pm.)

there is so much to do, and you can easily spend the entire day there in order to properly experience everything. this is why admission is so expensive. i was surprised to learn admission for 2 and up is $24 during the peak season! there is no “kid’s price”: they pay the same as adults! for that reason alone, i really wouldn’t bring children unless they’re older.. maybe, at least 5 years old, to make the price worthwhile.

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we took a family photo before we explored the park

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penny enjoyed the splash pad the most!

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dad is regretting not bringing a change of clothes although he did wear swim trunks

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ezra did not like the jet spray of cold water

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can’t expect a toddler to look at the camera in the midst of water play

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this thing was awesome – half the time, kids were waiting for the huge bucket of water to fill up so it could tip over and come down the slide

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splash!

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waiting…

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walking the dinosaur trail

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dinosaur vertebrae

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ezra always has something in his mouth these days

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dinosaur maze

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our annual stop at dave’s place in oakdale, ct… it’s so good and always busy!

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my go-to: fried clam strips

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new england clam chowder and a cheeseburger

the day before, on saturday, august 12th, my mil and i took the kids to the tolland 4-h fair that was held across the street from where we live. we had taken penny there before when she was an infant but going on saturday made me realize just how small it is. i believe it was $3 for a walk-in fee.. not each person so that was fine.

there were a few vendors and food stands but the only thing that was of interest were the animals.  we looked at the llamas, cows, sheep, goats, chickens & roosters, and the rabbits (although the latter were closed off so we had to view from a distance). penny also liked looking at the row of tractors, old and new. she wanted to go on them but we told her they were only for looking.

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i don’t want to knock a fair, but it was just okay. i wouldn’t go back though, honestly. it was just something to do and all we had to do was walk over from our neighborhood.

dennis and i are really looking forward to taking the kids to farm day at the fish family farm in bolton. it’s on sept 2nd this year and it’s from 9am-5pm. we took penny last year but since she was so small she couldn’t participate in the children’s activities like the obstacle course. she did enjoy eating ice cream though (and it’s all-you-can-eat!) my friend, karen, and i found out from a vendor that there is a spin art station so i’ll be sure to look for that. hopefully this year we can make a tie-dye shirt too because we didn’t get a chance to last year.

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always smiling

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step right up and enjoy the ride

“carnivals bring out the child in everyone” ~ unknown

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every summer, our town holds a carnival during the last week of july from wednesday through saturday. i had wanted to bring penny last year but we didn’t end up going because it was really hot and humid on that saturday. why didn’t i try bringing her on the other days? well, the carnival opens at 6pm wednesday – friday and at 5pm on saturday. considering penny was 14 months then and her bedtime around 7/7:30, there wouldn’t have been much time to spend at the carnival if i had gone on the other days. for those of you that know me and/or have been following my blog for some time, i have my children on a somewhat rigid schedule. we all know that tired and miserable children means that the adults are tired and miserable, too.

even though penny is 26 months now, her bedtime mostly depends on when her nap ended. it’s not until children start dropping their nap altogether (usually around age 3~4) that a strict bedtime is necessary, typically around 7:30. even if she’s gotten a good 2.5 hour nap in, sometimes she’ll still want to go to sleep about 4 hours after her nap ended. we just go by her cues because every day is different. she’s learning something new all the time and it can be exhausting (for all).

but, back to the carnival. we were able to take both penny and ezra to the carnival yesterday! the weather was perfect: sunny with a cool breeze. we waited until ezra’s last ended. (actually i had to wake him up at 4:50pm!) we decided it would be easier to feed him at home since it would be chaotic at the carnival. this meant that we didn’t arrive there until around 5:40pm.

dennis’ parents were waiting for us in the parking lot, and we met up with parker, karen, and patrick near the carousel. i was worried about how penny would do on the rides but since she and parker sat together for some of the rides, she was fine! i think she was a little shocked still (and paralyzed with fear, haha) but she was good. no tears until she wanted to sit on a solo car. by the time we tried to find something else for her to sit on, all the double cars were taken so we got our 3 tickets back and just watched parker ride solo. baby steps… i’m still proud that she went on some rides. i mean, she is still only 2 years old.

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the adults were all a little skeptical about how the kids would react to the giant slide but they wanted to go on! the dads took parker and penny while the rest of us took videos and photos. penny absolutely loved it and wanted to go on again. this time, karen and i took the kids and i think we enjoyed it even more than the little ones! i used to love going to carnivals. i still do, but now i have to focus more on taking care of the kids. it’s not like i can run off to enjoy a ride solo. i guess i could if i really wanted to but there’s the waiting-in-line bit.

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anyway, i got a bit wistful as i looked around at all the rides. so many things these days seem to be “when the kids get older, we can do this”, and it gets me a little impatient. however, i know when they’re in their teenage years i’ll miss how small they used to be. plus, my goal was to be able to bring the kids to a carnival and we did! mission: accomplished.

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penny tried fried dough for the first time. despite her expression in pictures, she liked it

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grandma holding grandpa so he won’t fall


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rushing home for bedtime

this is off-topic but we have been potty training penny using the oh crap! potty training book for almost a week now. i really wish i had purchased the book sooner especially since we had attempted potty training back when penny was 19/20 months old. she had had successful pees/poops in the potty then but was still anxious and scared. thinking she wasn’t ready, we held off until recently.

this book is so amazing! it has wonderful tips and advice on how to know when your child is ready and what steps to take. one of the biggest mistakes parents make (and why kids get nervous) is because we tend to overprompt even when we think we aren’t! we might try to bribe, beg, or force them on the potty and those methods usually don’t work. that makes them more resistant.

the author states the best age to start is between 20-30 months. the closer the child gets to age 3, it’ll be more difficult because they’re more aware and independent (which could mean more power struggles). also, it is a myth that boys are ready later than girls. this kind of thinking is detrimental to boys in general. i know i have heard this myth plenty of times and even believed it to be true so i’m glad to be rid of this misconception.

parents want to clear their schedule and focus on the child (keep them close by!) during the first few days. the kid should also be naked from the waist down, at least. this gives them faster access to the potty but also makes them more aware of their body. plus, not having a snug diaper is a feeling they have to get used to! even underwear isn’t suggested because it feels too much like a diaper. once the child gets a good pee on the potty, the author suggests putting pants on the child, commando, and going out for a short walk or errand to hand your child success.

since penny had peed just before we were about to leave the house for the carnival (part floor/ part potty), we figured she was good to go. upon arrival, we saw that she had peed in her car seat and hadn’t told us! we really didn’t want to put a diaper on her, but felt like we had no choice since we risked her having an accident on a ride! it was just as well, i suppose, because while we stood in line to go on the carousel, i saw penny go suddenly still and knew she was peeing in her diaper. maybe she felt safe because she had a diaper on, or maybe she still would’ve peed without it… but it happened. i’m really hoping that one diaper didn’t set her backward since she’s only been wearing a diaper during naptime and bedtime.

the key is to not overprompt and pressure her (i need to step back more and look at what kind of message i’m sending with my words and tone of voice). it’s also tough to get everyone on the same page because i have to repeat the steps to my in-laws to remind them what we are supposed to be doing. they haven’t read the book so they can’t remember everything i tell them. sometimes they’ll ask her if she has to go or overprompt – both things not to do. but dennis and i catch ourselves doing that too so we attempt to back off when we find ourselves doing that the first time.

one thing that we’re glad for is that it’s summer. the warm days make it easy for penny to run around half-naked at home without us worrying about her being cold. hopefully she starts recognizing the sensation of having to go pee sooner than when it’s already coming out! i’ve seen some improvement though. for instance, she told me she had to go potty while we were walking down the stairs this morning. i held her and rushed her down, and she pooped entirely in the potty! (small victory!) in the afternoon, while she was playing with grandma she announced, “똥 나온다” (poop is coming out) and my mil quickly sat her on the potty just in time. ten minutes later, she said she had to pee and she peed entirely in the potty! that was her second time peeing in the potty with grandma today. needless to say, we were all in a celebratory mood today.

these are some hard times, for sure… i can’t believe we have to go through this with ezra in a few years.. and not to mention night-train both kids. but, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?

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she got her nails painted for the first time while sitting on the potty

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grandpa bought penny the bubble gun from the carnival

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100 days of ezra

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i recall planning for penny’s 100th day celebration two years ago, and now ezra is already 100 days old. it really has been an adventure so far raising two little ones. i’ve said it before but ezra is so much easier than penny right now. the ‘terrible twos’ are no joke. i had heard horror stories about it but you know nothing until you go through it with your child! the meltdowns are monumental: they make me want to run away and hide. when penny starts throwing a fit, dennis and i will glance at each other with wide eyes.

although penny is very good with languages and has excellent speaking skills she is still learning how to express herself. she doesn’t understand that she can’t always get what she wants especially at that exact moment. toddlers also go through a power struggle with their parents, and i feel like penny tests us a lot because she’ll do something and then quickly look at us for a reaction.

my patience has been very thin for a while since i’m sleeping maybe 4-5 hours at night. it’s my choice though. dennis usually goes to bed around 10 but i stay up until midnight or even 1am sometimes because i’ve been crafting for ezra’s 100th day party. not only that, i just really enjoy my alone time… but it’s taking a toll on my mood the next day. every day i tell myself i’ll go to bed sooner but i don’t. just yesterday i told myself i’ll start sleeping earlier once ezra’s party is over but i don’t know if i actually will. i always find something to do that keeps me up. (and yet, it’s still difficult to find time and energy to update my blog.)

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penny testing our her custom disney umbrella that katie bought for her from disney world

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we started potty training penny again, and it hasn’t been easy. she’s well aware that she has to go but she will hold it because she doesn’t want to sit on the potty. she will tell us she has to go but then will refuse to sit down. two days ago, she finally pooped on the potty. she was about to go in her underwear and i caught her just in time. yesterday she said she had to go pee after bathtime but kept holding it. finally just before bed, she sat down on the potty while i played ‘elmo potty’ songs on youtube and she went!! it’s a slow process so i’m trying to be encouraging and patient with that. it’ll be wonderful to only have one child in diapers.

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getting fresh air after a rainstorm

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it rained so much in so little time that some areas were flooded

7.15 will’s 2nd birthday

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bounce

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the birthday boy

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it has been one humid and wet summer here in new england. if it isn’t raining, it’s been muggy which has limited our outside time. right now we are in the midst of a heat wave. yesterday we took the kids to crystal lake and penny had a blast swimming in the water. we had first taken her there last summer when she was just beginning to walk. i was a bit worried about ezra because his afternoon naps had been so short but he enjoyed himself too. we sat in the shade and the cool breeze calmed him down. i dipped his feet in the water but he didn’t like that too much; it was probably not warm enough for him.

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it’s that magical time where both kids are snoozing. i’m going to sign off here and hopefully i can lie down (even if i can’t fall asleep) for 15 minutes before ezra wakes up.

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!