happy 1st birthday, penny

it’s done! it’s over! all those months of endless planning… finding ideas on pinterest… crafting during penny’s naps and bedtime… fretting over the tiniest details… they are no more. and honestly, it makes me kind of sad. my friend, jennie, celebrated her daughter’s first birthday this past sunday. her baby girl, kaylee, and penny, were born on the same day: 5/15/15. unfortunately since they reside on the west coast we weren’t able to attend each other’s parties. but we discussed them in full length last night after we had somewhat recovered from the weekend festivities. we both agreed that we were enormously relieved that it was all over… but we felt a piece of us was missing.. what is our purpose now? haha.. jennie said we are crazy, and i guess i would have to agree.

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before the party, two things that had worried us the most were the weather and how penny would sleep in an unfamiliar place. there was no rain date and we absolutely would not have been able to comfortably accommodate all the guests indoors especially since we had rented a photo booth. the event was held at my parents’ house and everything was set up in the backyard. turns out, the weather and penny’s sleep were the least of our worries. saturday ended up being in the mid-to-high 70s and sunny and penny slept on her own, no problem.

what we didn’t take into account was that penny would get sick. she started showing symptoms around wednesday afternoon after her last nap. she woke up with flushed cheeks and was fussy. later, she started feeling really warm and had a fever of 102.2. her fever went up and down the next several days and she also had diarrhea. tylenol seemed to help her immensely and she continued to sleep well albeit in pain (we could hear her moaning and crying a little in her sleep.)

we packed up most of the car on thursday night since we were going to head up to boston on friday after her morning nap. she did great on the 1.5 hour drive – all smiles – so we were hopeful that she was getting better. the tylenol wore off and she still didn’t have much of an appetite – we kept trying to make her drink milk, water, and pedialyte. we had to wake her up from her first nap away from home and she was not happy. she hadn’t improved by saturday so we let her sleep as long as she wanted for her first nap – it ended up being 3 hours – while we started setting up for the party.

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even though she wasn’t feeling well, she enjoyed taking walks outside.

a positive note from that morning was that dennis received a very special surprise: his brother, dan, and wife, crystal, flew in from maryland that morning just to attend penny’s birthday. dan, crystal, and i had known for 2 months that they were flying up for the day. i ended up telling dennis’s mom so that she and my fil could come up to boston a little early to spend time with dan and crystal too. she’s good at keeping secrets.. dennis’ dad, not so much. xP

we definitely needed their presence too because we all seriously underestimated how much time we would need to set up for the party. we began around 10am when penny fell asleep for her nap and were still scrambling to finish as guests began to arrive a few minutes before 3pm. even though my sister and her boyfriend, brendan, had arrived around 11 to help we were still backed up! we are talking 8 adults here…(dennis’ parents arrived around noon.) after penny woke up at 1pm, dennis’ mom took care of her while the rest of us ran around like chickens with our heads cut off..eesh. i hate the feeling of not being ready so my stress level was on high that day.

since we were so concerned about penny’s well-being i feel like we didn’t get to mingle with the guests as much. dennis and i also forgot to do some of the things we had planned because we were trying to rush everything like photos, doljabi, and the cake while she was in a good mood. granted, she probably would’ve been overwhelmed even if she was 100% because of how many people were there but being sick made it worse. she did a total 180 when dennis and i took her inside so she could eat dinner away from the crowd. we also just let her sit in her diaper and she was much happier… the hanbok that she was wearing was stiff and hot and that had made her even crankier. her mood improved drastically after a full belly and we were able to take her outdoors for the “happy birthday” song and she even took a few swipes at the cake and ate the frosting.

we are waiting for the photographs to be ready… in the meantime we were looking at the photo booth pictures and photos that people took with their phones. in hindsight, yeah, we could have always made it better… but i am grateful that the weather was perfect, everyone had a great time, and penny ended up feeling better near the end.

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we waited to open the gifts the next day

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spending some time with grandpa lee before going home

now that my life isn’t consumed with planning penny’s birthday,  i can catch up on eating (i hadn’t been eating well, or enough the last month or so.. basically just shoving food in my mouth or skipping meals altogether so i could focus on penny’s birthday projects) and taking care of myself because i let all that go out the window. dennis and i are going to aruba for a destination wedding in a few weeks and i haven’t been to the gym since i went ONCE in punta cana back in january. is a beach body even feasible in two weeks’ time? probably not.. but i could, at least, start going so i can be “ready” for this summer. maybe tonight…

in any case, dennis and i are looking forward to making weekend trips to boston this summer. now that we know penny’s a good sleeper even when she’s not at home (hopefully, it wasn’t a fluke) we are even more excited for the summer! i think it helped that she was in her own room on the third floor while the rest of us slept on the second. plus, we brought everything from home that she’s used to like her white noise, bedtime books, and this fisher price puppy that plays lullabies. we did the same routine during naps and bedtime and she did fabulously. it was her first time sleeping in the pack ‘n play as well. we bought a mattress for it so she’d be comfortable as the thin pad that comes with it isn’t really suitable for sleep. she goes in the pack ‘n play now and then while we prep food in the kitchen but she had never slept in it before. we couldn’t be happier with our sleeping beauty!

penny’s first christmas

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penny in her playroom


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she loves yogurt!

’twas a very merry christmas!

i was so excited to celebrate our first christmas as a family because it’s such an important, and festive, holiday.

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playing with the gift the so grandparents got her


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one of her many gifts: a ball pit!


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thank you, jennie and kaylee, for the adorable headband!


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looks so much cuter with hair!

christmas is also my mom’s birthday. it’s rough having your birthday fall on the biggest holiday of the year and sharing it with jesus so we try to make it special for my mom. my parents came down for dinner on christmas eve, and we went out to eat with dennis’ parents as well. my mom is very selfless and doesn’t ask for much so i know she was overjoyed when we surprised her with a cake – strawberry cheesecake from vernon diner to be specific.

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i love you, mom! happy birthday ❤

taking advantage of being able to spend time with us, my mom practically held penny the entire time. she and my mil took turns feeding penny her bottle and butternut squash with pear.

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entertaining herself during dinner


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before we left for dinner

so much good happens in my life, and as every year draws to a close i wonder how next year can even possibly be on the same level, or even better, than this one. but every year has been better than the last.

2015 was no exception and is probably the most important year of my life since i became a mommy to a healthy, vivacious, happy, and beautiful baby girl. it’s hard to believe penny’s already 7.5 months. with each passing day, i’m in awe of what she knows and can do. for example, today she began saying “da da da.” she had been saying, “ba ba ba” for some time now but has been more vocal the past few days. she also has been screeching and yelling (while smiling) because she can.

penny also gave us a wonderful gift: sleeping on her own. we’ve been rocking penny to sleep since she was born. as she got heavier and heavier we have been wondering how long we would have to do this for. we knew we would have to start sleep training but i, in particular, was nervous about this daunting task. do we try the “cry it out” method? what do we do? it turns out we didn’t have to do anything except put her down.

when researching on sleep training i kept reading “put baby down ‘drowsy but awake'” and thought, “yeah, right.. penny will never sleep like that.” we were too afraid to risk it, and honestly penny probably wasn’t ready. until three days ago.

around 6 months, penny transitioned to a 2-nap day and her awake time has been slowly increasing. currently, penny’s on track to being on the 2-3-4 schedule. if you don’t know what that is, it means your baby’s awake period is 2 hours before first nap, 3 hours before second nap, and 4 hours before bedtime. for quite some time, penny’s awake time was 2 hours before each nap and then, maybe, 3 until bedtime. we have been slowly increasing the increments in her awake time while still following her sleepy cues.

we also noticed that if her second nap was a half hour and gave her a third nap, she wouldn’t fall asleep as easily for bedtime. therefore if she ever had a “disaster nap” for the second nap we would put her to bed a little earlier.

this website was so helpful in helping me figure out penny’s schedule. yes, all babies are different but the “sleep lady” was on point for penny’s needs. we don’t let penny sleep longer than 2 hours for any nap and we are mindful of her awake time.

back in november, penny was sleeping 10-hour stretches which were wonderful but also driving us crazy because she would be awake and ready to go at 4am. she would play for an hour or even more and finally end up falling asleep again. thankfully, she had learned how to self-soothe by then so she wasn’t crying for us but i would lie awake wondering if i would have to tend to her or not. on one of the nights penny would not fall asleep i told dennis to turn off the night light on the video monitor. we were skeptical, but it worked! with the room pitch-black, penny soon fell asleep! now we knew why she had had a hard time falling back asleep: as she became more aware of her surroundings, the night light distracted her and kept her from sleeping even though she was tired.

one of the other reasons for her early-morning wake-ups was that penny had started waking up around 6am or earlier so by the end of the day she would want to go to bed around 5:30! it was stressful trying to make her stay up until, at least, 6pm so she wouldn’t wake up so early the next day. (now that penny has a set schedule i see that she was trying to fully transition to 2 naps and we had to fiddle with her awake time.)

some days she slept even longer, until 5am, but then would not fall back asleep because.. face it, 11 hours straight is pretty dang good. that’s a well-rested baby. but again, with time, and with the increase in her awake time penny has been waking up after 6am and sleeping after 6pm.

i was pretty satisfied with penny’s progress until she threw me for a loop three nights ago. even though penny was tired, she would not sleep. i rocked her for 3 hours.. is that crazy or what?! every time i put her in the crib, her eyes would fly open. it was obvious she was ready to pass out because every time i picked her back up her eyes would immediately close. finally, out of frustration, exhaustion, and hunger i placed her in the crib around 9:40pm and walked downstairs.

as i ate a very late dinner and watched the monitor, penny fussed and played for ten minutes and then fell asleep. i couldn’t believe it. first of all, she had been on her side in the merlin suit and fell asleep like that! and second, there was no pacifier and no one to soothe her.. she just.. fell asleep.

thinking it was just a fluke and that she had just been exhausted from being up so long, dennis tried rocking her for her morning nap the next day. but, penny would wake up whenever he put her down. finally he came downstairs to see if she would fall asleep on her own AND SHE DID! penny has been telling us she’s ready to fall asleep by herself.. and we are ECSTATIC that we don’t have to rock her anymore.

sleep is such a beautiful, beautiful thing… and penny has been sleeping 11 straight hours without us having to tend to her. we still can’t believe it. of course, all will change when her teeth finally come in.. and the 8-month sleep regression is quickly approaching but we are SO enjoying this right now! and we are so proud that penny has been able to figure out how to sleep on her own. we are finally feeling more rested, and happier because of it too.

sweet dreams, penny.