aruba

dennis and i returned from a destination wedding in aruba two weeks ago. (has it already been two weeks?) we had such an amazing time: the weather was perfect – sunny and in the lower 90s every day. it hardly ever rains in aruba, but the winds are fierce! they help to cool you down under the blistering sun but it is annoying to have towels and other things fly away. particularly the sand stinging our bodies while we relaxed by the beach was irritating, but a small price to pay to be in paradise!

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the gorgeous riu palace

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the riu palace recently underwent renovations and is easily the most beautiful hotel in the area

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we absolutely loved aruba and would love to go back. what was even better was that it was our 3rd vacation without penny. we love her dearly but we need to have time for ourselves too! being able to sleep in, going to bed whenever, and doing what we wanted to do was heavenly… more trips in the future, please!

my main goal was to lay out by the beach and get tan! mission accomplished, although dennis and i had horrendous burn marks on the first day from the sun’s strong rays (even though i had reapplied twice). thankfully they faded into a tan.

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every day, the staff at riu toss out water balloons and guests go nuts throwing them at each other. so bad for the environment ūüė¶

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view from our balcony

besides laying out by the pool or the ocean and going into the water, we went on one excursion: the jolly pirate! it’s basically a booze cruise with a rope swing. we had a blast, and i also took pictures of (almost) everyone there with my selfie stick. ever since penny was born, and even before that, i had cut way back on alcohol. so even though this was an all-inclusive vacation, i didn’t drink ¬†much and i didn’t feel the pressure to have to just because it was included.

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about to swing!

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dennis was the best one

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gorgeous caribbean sunset

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IMG_8441IMG_8440the main reason for going to aruba, of course, was to see our friends, danielle and ryan, get married! it was a beautiful, low-key wedding by the beach complete with paparazzi – the beach-goers surrounded us and we are saved on people’s phones and tablets all over the world probably. dinner was indoors but in an open-air setting. after the cake, we moved to an outdoor area by the pool to get our dance on!

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groom and his groomsmen!

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the radiant bride!

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a kiss at sunset

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although we were on vacation i didn’t go too crazy with the partying. i was tired, and i really wanted to cherish the time i could sleep long hours without interruption. even so, when i went back to the room i would get lost in a book that was i reading: euphoria by lily king. i really enjoyed having quiet time to myself, and even though most of our party was still out drinking or mingling i chose to end the night early almost every night we were there. i don’t regret it all!

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taking in the nightly entertainment at the hotel

penny was fabulous, as always, while we were gone.. and she didn’t have separation anxiety at all. she never really has. sometimes she’ll get clingy during leaps or when she’s teething, but we don’t have to worry about her waking up or crying because she misses us. it may happen later on but it hasn’t so far..

to conclude, i’ve included some photos that i took from the couple’s “trash the dress” photo shoot! danielle bought a $200 dress to trash; she didn’t destroy her actual dress!

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aruba, you were so good to us. where are we off to next?

 

vegas getaway

first of all, happy 1st birthday to avery!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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flying over the rockies..?

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

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aria

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

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

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

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the courtyard

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

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flaky almond croissant and croque monsieur sandwich from jean-philippe

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

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pretty treats from jean-phillippe

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adorable cupcakes from bachannal

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on our way to bachannal

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

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

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the basics for a day walking around town

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visiting “paris”

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the girls before our dinner at javier’s

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

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

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

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

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

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zarkana

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

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

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