count your blessings

good news: baby boy is doing well. at my ultrasound on tuesday, i found out that he’s in the 48th percentile for height and weighs about 6lb. 8oz. so far so nothing to worry about! he’s well on his way to being a 7lb. baby if he stays put for a few more weeks. i was also able to bring home pictures of him from the ultrasound – his fist is visible over his nose and he was moving a lot during the check-up too.

i’m already almost at 38 weeks! nowadays, i wake up every morning wondering if today is “the day.” i’ve actually been feeling more energized the last couple of days – i’m not sure if it’s my nesting instinct kicking in but i’ve been wired even on less sleep. two days ago, i stayed up until nearly 4am (!) to work on penny’s birthday invitations. dennis had recently gifted me the cricut explore air 2 and i’ve been fiddling around with it to create birthday invites for penny’s upcoming 2nd birthday party. it really shouldn’t have taken that long to create and cut the images, but i have an old macbook (2009) and my software is too old to support the cricut design space program. i tried downloading the newest osx but it wouldn’t work. i’ve been designing on my iphone and ipad but haven’t been able to print out the invitation wording. the downside of the cricut is that that most of the fonts have to be printed on a separate printer – this would be fine if i was able to use the program on my macbook. ūüė¶

anyway, the invitations are nearly done and i need to make the custom envelopes since they’re an awkward size.¬†last night i didn’t go to bed until after 1am (working on the invitations again) but felt well-rested when i woke up this morning. penny actually got up for good around 7:50am and her talking roused me from my slumber.

i’ve also been feeling better physically. usually i have difficulty breathing and my acid reflux comes and goes particularly after i eat, but yesterday was the first day in a long time where i did not experience either. i’m feeling rather good today too. maybe it means baby boy has dropped so there’s less pressure on my stomach and lungs. the only that persists is the constipation. it started clearing up a few days ago but then it returned so it has been quite uncomfortable.

we haven’t finished our hospital bags yet (me, mostly because i still need to buy a few more items) but we are going to have the majority of them packed tonight. this is because dennis and i are making a half-day trip up to massachusetts tomorrow to visit my eldest aunt and grandma. my aunt’s health has always been terrible – longtime smoker and doesn’t eat well – but she has deteriorated significantly the last several months. most recently she had shingles to go along with her many other ailments. my mom informed me two days ago that the doctor said my aunt may pass away soon, maybe even that night! well, she hasn’t thankfully… still barely holding on though so dennis and i want to go see her because it may be our last time.

i was never close to my aunt – she only came to the states after i graduated college or maybe a little before that. she also had a tumultuous relationship with my grandpa (rest in peace) and doesn’t get along with my grandma either. simply put, she has a lot of anger and resentment.. and we can only feel bad for her. she was always friendly whenever we visited (even if it was only a front) and she really looked forward to seeing dennis and, of course, penny.

my grandma.. well, she was more like our mother when we were young. she looked after my siblings and me while our parents worked long hours at their dry cleaners, and then later on a restaurant. she will be 96 in april and has lived a very long and illustrious life. she had always been in great health even with her many falls and accidents but her brittle bones couldn’t take any more of those. it looks as if she will be in a nursing home from now on so she doesn’t have the comfort of being in her own home. i wish we could bring penny up to see both my aunt and grandma but i know it wouldn’t be safe health-wise. (i’m being very cautious myself especially when seeing my aunt.)

it’s very difficult to think that my aunt and grandma both don’t have a lot of time left on this earth. i get so caught up in my everyday life worrying mostly about mundane things that i don’t fully¬†appreciate all the good things i have in life until i sit down and really ponder over my day. i still keep a journal and that helps me to recognize and address my thoughts, feelings, and day’s events. it’s not just so i can look back and remember how i had felt or what i had done on a particular day but writing is also very therapeutic because it’s a way for me to acknowledge what i am going through instead of bottling it all up inside.

i keep thinking of the bible verse: “and he said, ‘naked i came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall i return. the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” job 1:21. as i prepare to welcome a baby into this world, i’m also bracing for the departure of my aunt, and maybe even my grandmother later on in the year. i know my aunt is in a lot of pain and may not be entirely coherent but i hope she finds comfort knowing that her family members have, and continue to, visit her and provide company and support.

*update: my mom told me at 3:11pm that my aunt had passed away while my cousin was visiting. i’m very upset i wasn’t able to see her in time. still thinking of going up tomorrow; at least i can see my grandma.

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37 weeks

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brushing our teeth together in the morning

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we went to the kids fun fair held at the xl center in hartford last weekend. it’s definitely more appropriate for older children. penny wasn’t tall enough to go on any of the rides although one of the ride operators let her go on one… but she cried so he let her off.

i had a free adult ticket and child ticket courtesy of dennis’s store but i paid $15 for my mil’s ticket. food and rides are extra. i didn’t think it was worth $15 for the admission price. it wasn’t that big and you wouldn’t spend more than 2 hours there. (the online price of $10 sold out.) still, it was a great experience for penny to see live animals and also feed a llama!

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she was trying to entice the mules with straw

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llamas!

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after she fed the llama some kibble, she freaked out a little bit. she said, “all done!” in korean and wanted nothing more to do with the llama.

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she was fine until the ride started

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uh-oh…

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we got her a balloon to calm her down

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the line to ride the elephant was too long

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she really wanted to go on this ride and had a meltdown when she could not go on.

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adults aren’t allowed on otherwise my mil would’ve ridden with her.

after the fair, we had dinner at grandma’s house where penny always enjoys playing with vintage toys – her dad’s and uncle dan’s! she loves blowing the kazoo!

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caught in the act!

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originally a selfie for grandma

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yesterday was a beautiful day so we ventured outdoors. 

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checking out our reflection in the sewer water

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snack break after “tiny tots.” penny loves to read and sing every tuesday at the library.

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stacking pegs all by herself this morning

thanksgiving & birthday weekend

[12:30pm] i love my birthday because it usually falls around thanksgiving weekend so the festive mood from the holiday continues on to my birthday. sometimes my birthday falls on thanksgiving day which makes it even more special.

this year, thanksgiving got off to a rocky start. i got into a car accident on wednesday evening. i was craving pasta so i ordered dinner for the family (including in-laws) from cheesecake factory and i drove by myself to pick it up. i wanted to drive because i looked forward to the quiet time i could get in the car. dennis was working until 10 that evening so i decided to drop off food for him.

what should have been a half hour ride turned into an hour because of the holiday traffic. i don’t think it would’ve been that bad had there not been two accidents on the highway. at one point, three out of four lanes were closed which caused much of the delay. by the time i picked up the food and was on my way to dennis’ pharmacy it was already 5:30. i texted my mil to tell her to feed penny whatever food we had at home for now since i was going to be late.

as i drove down the local roads of west hartford i felt annoyed that i was running behind because of the accidents on the highway. i noticed a man pushing a stroller up his front walk, and then i looked forward just in time to see a minivan had stopped in front of me. i cursed and slammed on the brakes, but i plowed into the car anyway. the man with the stroller whipped around at the noise of the impact but i was busy trying to salvage the containers of pasta that had flown out of the bag. thankfully no food had spilled onto the car floor but the damage was done to my car. the grill was snapped in half and broken bits were scattered everywhere.

i knew it was my fault and i braced myself for the other driver’s reaction. a young woman stepped out and walked over to my car. then she asked worriedly, “are you okay?” i hadn’t been crying before because i was in shock but her kindness and genuine concern started a waterfall of tears. i kept blubbering on about how i was sorry and that i’ve been so tired lately that i zoned out. she kept reassuring me that as long as we were both okay, that it was fine.

it was only after i stepped out to inspect the damage to both cars and took photos with my iphone that i realized i was nearly 5 months pregnant! i wasn’t in any physical pain and i wasn’t going fast enough for the air bags to be deployed, but i was still concerned for the baby and i shared this with the other woman. she was troubled by it and even told the police officer that had arrived to report the accident.

it took quite a while for the officer to do the paperwork, and while the woman and i stood out in the cold we talked about where we are from (she’s originally from west hartford but has been living in baltimore) and what our plans had been that evening. i told her how my family had recently visited maryland to visit my brother-in-law and his wife. i even recommended the restaurant founding farmers to her. clearly, it isn’t ever ideal to get into a car accident but i am so grateful that the other person involved had been so understanding and gracious. she was on her way to meet a friend for dinner and i had ruined those plans, but she was still so positive about everything. she explained that she had been in my shoes a few months ago and knew what it was like to have to worry about dealing with insurance and the other driver. i had been in accidents where the other person was at fault and though i certainly never screamed or lost my temper, i don’t think i was really¬†that¬†understanding.

after almost an hour after the collision, i continued on to dennis’ work. he was only a half mile away! he knew what had happened because during all of the chaos i had called him to let him know. after talking to him and dropping off the food i was finally on my way home where the entire family – including crystal and dan – greeted me anxiously. i was fine, i was fine, thank the lord; just relieved to be home with the family.

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thanksgiving day was spent cooking all day but it was worth it. initially we had planned on driving up to massachusetts to celebrate with my side of the family since we had not been able to do that last year. however, we reconsidered after thinking of the traffic (two years ago, it took us 3 hours to arrive at my cousin’s house) and how we would only spend two hours there and then have to drive back again for penny’s bedtime.

it was eight of us including penny and yuri – a relaxing evening in the comforts of our own home. i tried to be festive by making a thanksgiving banner and hanging up fall-themed artwork created by penny. although the food was delicious – crystal contributed by making mac & cheese and helping me with other tasks like flower arranging – it was really time spent with the family that i appreciated. we never get to see crystal and dan this often and it was great being able to see them in maryland and then here for three days the week after. we will see them next at our pastor’s wedding in february.

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the boys playing mortal combat x

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the spread!

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homemade pumpkin cheesecake pie

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macarons and mini cupcakes from baked by melissa

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praying for the meal

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we got chicken instead of turkey

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penny dancing while everyone cheers – this picture was from two days before thanksgiving

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having fun playing ping pong

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we went to a tree farm on saturday morning to get our christmas tree. it was easier when penny was 6 months old which is when we got our tree last year! since penny is mobile, she just wanted to walk and do her own thing. it took an hour to get a tree! i spent most of the time chasing penny and reining her in while dennis searched for a tree and cut it down. i did choose the final tree though!

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my birthday celebration on saturday evening was relatively low-key with dinner with close friends at a burger joint. i forgot to take a group photo ¬†ūüė¶ alice, john, and grace couldn’t make it to the games portion of the night but most of us moved on to dave and buster’s. i had forgotten how fun that place can be although saturday nights are not the best day to go since there can be a wait for certain games. i even played pump (korean version of ddr) with my pregnant belly and all. i used to play with my brother when he was younger – he is like a pro – so i can dance to some of the harder modes but boy was i out of breath at the end!

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my sister brought a lovely assortment of cupcakes from boston

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raspberry mousse birthday cake from giuseppe’s in south windsor

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my brother (james) compared to my sister (jen)

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the highlight of that evening was definitely my sister and brother driving down from boston to spend the night. my brother actually lives in la now but flew home for thanksgiving weekend. it had been quite some time since the three of us had done something together so i was extremely happy that they had both made it. plus, they were able to see how much penny had grown and spent time with her as well.

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sunday morning before church – penny liked the small basketball we got for her from d & b’s

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penny likes watching us cook

on my actual birthday, i was scheduled for a 10am ultrasound and anatomy scan. dennis and i found out we are having a B O Y! the technician asked us if we wanted to know and dennis blurted out that he could see the penis so there was no denying it! thanks to genie, we had decided on popping a balloon filled with appropriately-colored confetti to reveal the sex. i even brought scissors, tissue paper and ziploc bags with me so i could continue cutting the confetti. of course i stopped cutting pink ones after we found out the results. by the way, i had done research about the confetti-balloon reveal and many women recommended cutting up confetti using tissue paper because it’s light enough that it’ll float nicely for the photos. the store-bought ones are too heavy and would probably just fall instead of flying around for a greater effect.

after the appointment we stopped by party city and the employees stuffed two black 24-inch balloons with sky blue and royal blue confetti; then they filled them with helium. we also got a regular white balloon for penny to play with. when we arrived home, penny was napping and we ate lunch with my mil. we were going to do the reveal after penny woke up so mil went home for a few hours and we rested. a little before 3pm, both parents came over and we went onto the field to take a the first round of photos. we filled two balloons in case the first photo shoot didn’t come out well. we also had mil practice taking pictures by holding down the shutter button on the iphone so she could take consecutive pictures rapidly.

the pictures on the field came out nice enough¬†– especially our reactions – but it was too bright so the color of the confetti was difficult to see. we changed locations to our driveway where the shade and the white doors of the garage made for better photos. i ended up holding penny because it’s difficult to get a toddler to participate in photo shoots, really.

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the photo collage we used for our announcement

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we really would not have minded if we were going to have another girl but having a boy is wonderful too! so many of our friends and family commented that we are lucky to have one of each – which i suppose we are – but we all know health is #1. when i met with my ob after the ultrasound she said everything looked great which is not something she gets to say often (usually only once a day). she said nowadays that any little thing can be considered a “high-risk pregnancy” so to give us good news was great for her as well.

that evening, dennis and i enjoyed a quiet dinner at market grille. we ordered a bunch of apps from the happy hour menu and i indulged in a blackberry-pomegranate-ginger soda. we had planned on going to the movies afterwards to watch¬†arrival but we were both tired (and wanted to watch the missed episode of the walking dead) and felt bad that we would be coming home late since mil was watching penny as usual. we ended up stopping by dave & buster’s to play a few games ( we ended up with over 1,000 tickets) and kept the tickets so we can save up to get a really good prize for penny. ūüôā

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sorry for the terrible quality – snapchat photo

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it’s no wonder after that eventful week that i’ve been tired… tired enough where i can actually fall asleep during penny’s nap like i did yesterday. i thought i would close my eyes for a half hour and i ended up falling asleep for an hour! i sat upright immediately after realizing it was 3:30 and penny was still sleeping (almost 3 hours!) so i got up to wake her. let’s see if i can squeeze in some shut-eye now…

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sweet news

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i’m back. and with big news. the so family is expecting baby #2 on april 16th, 2017. currently i’m in my second trimester (14w 4d) and feeling infinitely better than i had been the past few months.

the reason for my blogging hiatus was due to my morning sickness. with penny i experienced nausea, fatigue, and food aversion to name a few but i never threw up (though i was close a few times). with my current pregnancy, weeks 5-11 were pure hell complete with toilet-hugging. at times i couldn’t even get out of bed and, fortunately, on days that dennis works 2-10 he would wake up in the morning with penny while i rested. it was really difficult to play with penny and cater to her needs when all i wanted to do was lie down. but again, i had help from dennis and also my mother-in-law. she still comes over several days a week to help prepare meals and take care of penny which i’m entirely grateful for.

like my pregnancy with penny, i couldn’t eat a lot of foods particularly meat and anything with red sauce (pasta and pizza). dinner was always a battle because dennis would bring home food and i would look at it and gag. there were many nights where i would go to bed hungry because i couldn’t stomach anything – even water was gross; it tasted metallic.

i didn’t do much the past few months but attempt to eat and sleep. i got nauseous when watching tv or reading a book, and all i wanted to do was nap when penny napped so i put off blogging for a while even though there were so many things i wanted to share. hopefully i get back into the groove of things and i can record a detailed¬†pregnancy journey for penny’s little sister or brother.

baby #2 wasn’t entirely a huge surprise. we had been planning on trying for another one around fall because we were thinking of the age gap between penny and the baby. we weren’t intentionally trying but we also weren’t being super cautious.

and then we found out about baby #2 on august 4th.

i had a feeling i was pregnant because i had experienced a stuffy nose for over a week. this was my first symptom with penny too. no matter how much i blew my nose, it was constantly stuffy and impacted my night sleep. then, i started getting acne on my forehead which is rare. oddly, my hair started falling out; with penny, my hair had started growing thicker. a day before i was due for my next period, i took a pregnancy test (at night) and voila – instantly positive. i took one again the next morning and it was the same result.

even now we are still in disbelief that we will soon be parents to two children. boy, life goes by so quickly… in the meantime we have been cherishing penny even more as her status as an only child will soon expire. a newborn requires so much attention and care and we are praying for a smooth transition. as hard as it has been dealing with morning sickness and caring for a rambunctious toddler, i can only imagine how much work it will be once the baby is here!

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here’s a photo of me (and the baby) at 14 weeks.

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.

thankful

it’s already december! one more month and it’ll be 2016. i have gone through so many firsts with penny and soon it’ll be her first christmas ūüôā

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we cut down penny’s first christmas tree!

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last week was thanksgiving, my favorite holiday, and we had been planning to go up to boston to celebrate it with my side of the family. for those who know, my family is huge (about 50 members or so) and it’s always a good time: tons of food (korean and american); gambling (poker for the younger generations and hwa-to, ŪôĒŪ܆ korean cards for the older adults); and football to name a few activities.

our family even has a facebook group to update each other on events. on november 1st, someone starts a post on who will bring what to thanksgiving. we always have to have 2 turkeys just because of the sheer size of our family. there’s usually ham as well, and we also have sullung-tang, žĄ§Žü¨ŪÉē or gook-bab, ÍĶ≠Žį• for dinner in addition to the leftovers.

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my family, sans us, at this year’s thanksgiving!

dennis and i had been fretting (mostly me) on enduring 3-hour traffic; dealing with an overtired baby; and having her spend the night in an unfamiliar place. we had a list on what to pack and it was practically everything baby-related item we own including a pack ‘n play and her monitor.

in the end, we opted to stay home. i was really sad about missing out on my family’s thanksgiving (i cried!) but it was truly for the best, and i don’t regret our decision. plus, dennis’ brother, dan, and his wife, crystal, drove up from washington d.c. to spend thanksgiving here and we would not have been able to spend time with them had we gone up to boston. we also had not seen them since july when penny was about 7¬†weeks old! it was a relaxing, intimate get-together with both korean and american food – thanks to crystal and our mil.

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the so family

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obligatory ‘funny face’ photo

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it was also my 32nd birthday on the 28th. i didn’t have the motivation to go out and celebrate but dennis was sweet enough to plan and organize a birthday dinner for me. at the end of the day, all i really look forward to is lounging on the couch and passing out in front of the tv. but i’m glad dennis made sure i take time to enjoy life as well.

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delicious strawberry-peach cake

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as a birthday gift, dennis is also treating me to 4 days in las vegas! we are leaving this coming sunday and i’m¬†incredibly nervous about the trip. it’s not just the hassle of pumping, saving milk and transporting it back but i’m so anxious to leave penny home for 4 days. although penny is comfortable with my mil she goes through ‘mommy phases’ where she can only be soothed by me. i just worry about her crying for me at night especially since she’s been sleeping 9~12 hours straight as of last week. i know babies are unpredictable and just when you think you have their schedule figured out, it goes belly-up but i worry¬†how much¬† it will be affected when i’m gone.

mil was over yesterday and she took the initiative to jot down notes on penny’s awake time, how much to feed and how often, and nap length. she’s really great with penny and very loving and patient so i know she’ll do a great job.. i just need to reassure myself. and anyway, the trip is happening so there’s nothing i can do but try to enjoy myself! we are going with four of our friends and it’ll be nice to get away and treat myself… right?

well anyway, i need to get my mind off the trip because i’ll drive myself crazy with unnecessary stress.

today is penny’s first swim lesson! she absolutely loves bath time so we figured¬†she’ll take to swimming but it’s in a whole different environment so who knows, really? her bathing suit arrived a few days ago and though it’s size 6-12 months it’ll be too small for her in a month or so. her lesson is from 4:30-5pm which is perfect because then we can come home and do her bedtime routine. i’m nervous because i’ll be taking her by myself (and going in the water too!) so i hope all goes well.

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important update on penny’s supposed milk allergy: she is¬†not allergic to dairy.. hooray! at her 6-month visit, our pediatrician changed penny’s poopy diaper and noted that it looks normal for a breastfed baby. he advised us to get probiotics to help with her bowel movements. we give penny 5 drops a day by spoon and now she’s down to 1-2 bowel movements a day! i’m so relieved because a dairy-free diet is unbelievably difficult and i didn’t want have to deal with that… of course, i would have¬†had to if penny really was allergic, but she’s not!

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all in all, i have a lot to be thankful about… and during times of trial, i hope i can think of moments like these to spur me on.

 

on to the next one

by far, the fourth month of penny’s life has been the most eventful. the dreaded sleep regression, huge developmental gains, and a growth spurt. wait, another growth spurt? obviously, babies are constantly growing (penny is wearing size 6 months) but there are certain times where babies go through an extra ‘spurt’, so to speak, where they may sleep longer or less depending on the baby and consume more milk than usual. penny went through her growth spurt for about 2 days (9/24-25). during this time she upped her breast milk intake by 8-10oz. and she was sleeping most of the time. since she slept a lot during the day, she fought bedtime because she was hungry and was going to bed between 8:30-9:30pm during those two nights. growth spurts last between 2-3 days and sometimes up to a week. we were fortunate that penny’s was on the short end.

she loves putting her hands in her mouth!

she loves putting her hands in her mouth!

according to the wonder weeks app, penny’s current leap ends in one day~ hurray! it has been a L-O-N-G leap. granted, i have seen penny grow so much physically and developmentally during this time but i am ready for it to be over. during this time, the app says, “As your baby’s leaps become more intense for her, you will find that it becomes more difficult for you as well. It is normal that you will be more annoyed with her whining behavior, and you may sometimes feel as though you have had enough and occasionally, find yourself desperate for her to hurry through these behaviors.”

SO TRUE! penny has been fussing and whining a lot lately particularly when we are trying to put her down for naps and for bedtime. dennis and i rock her to sleep and we have had to constantly change the speed or the motions to her liking. the other night, i ran out of ideas and just held her closer and started lightly kissing her on the cheek and she finally closed her eyes and stopped whining. when dennis put her down for a morning nap earlier today, he gently blew on her face and she fell asleep. remembering that he did this, i did the same when i put penny down for the night at 6:45pm. we just have to keep being creative and persistent…

she discovered thumb-sucking!

she discovered thumb-sucking!

the past few weeks, penny has been showing a greater interest in her hands. she’s constantly staring at them making her cross-eyed (lol) and sticking them in her mouth. she also never sucked her thumb until a couple of days ago.

daddy & daughter time

daddy & daughter time

a positive about this current leap is that babies also become more fun to be around during the day – don’t forget that sleep regression at night! they become more communicative, responsive, and playful. penny has increasingly become more independent. for a while she has been fine being by herself for 10 minutes in her crib when she wakes up first thing in the morning. she will talk to herself, play with her hands, and smile and laugh at the mobile hanging over her crib. recently, she’s been chilling in her crib for up to 20 minutes! it’s very reassuring to see that penny is comfortable being alone for a certain period of time.

she's so happy!

she’s so happy!

i’ve followed up on my vow of being more active instead of being homebound. i brought penny to church by myself this past sunday even though genie wasn’t able to make it because olivia was still napping. (you will find that your life revolves around their nap schedule.) she sat on my lap during the entire service and was so¬†well-behaved for a baby. it’s natural for babies to fuss and cry, and she did fuss for a little bit because the window for her nap time had passed but i gave her a pacifier and she relaxed. after service, i ate lunch with my friend, alice, and penny was quietly sitting back in the stroller observing her surroundings and smiling when people came to visit her.

penny and i went to the mall today to meet up with genie and olivia.

bff

bff

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yummy godiva cone

yummy godiva cone

the only downside to bringing penny out to places for more than a couple of hours is that she can start getting cranky due to being overtired. every time we come home after church, for example, it becomes a battle trying to put her down for a nap. last week when dennis and i came home after church, penny woke up crying after a half-hour nap. i went upstairs, left the lights off and fed her. then, i rocked her to sleep and she slept for almost 3 hours! we were able to watch the entire patriots game! i’m glad we didn’t just ‘give up’ and bring her back downstairs… not only because we wouldn’t have been able to watch the game (we try our best for penny to avoid screen time) but she really¬†did¬†need to sleep. babies may have a few half-hour naps throughout the day but those naps aren’t restorative at all and may be one of the reasons your little one doesn’t sleep through the night. penny usually takes one long nap (anywhere from 2-3 hours) along with two 30-45 minute naps so she sleeps well at night.

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taken before church on 9/27

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dennis used the monitor to see what we were up to when penny woke up early from her nap last sunday :)

dennis used the monitor to see what we were up to when penny woke up early from her nap last sunday ūüôā

i’ve said it many times before and i’ll say it again.. it definitely helps having mommy friends close by. throughout your life, you’ll find friends entering and leaving your life¬†particularly during big events – college, wedding, baby, etc. sometimes people grow apart due to conflicting interests, distance, or busy schedules. other times, friendships start out of convenience or because you end up going through the same experience together.

often times¬†friendships that deteriorate during important life events is due to one person not being able to relate to the other. recently engaged? well, your single friends just may be resentful of your impending nuptials..¬†first-time parent? your baby-free friends just.cant.understand why you can’t find a sitter and come out for a few drinks. raising a baby really can’t be that hard, right? sure they cry and have poopy diapers, but don’t they eat and sleep most of the time?

during today’s playdate, genie and i discussed how our pre-baby mentality¬†mirrored exactly those of our baby-free¬†friends. both of us are part of a closed motherhood group on facebook with 29,000+ strong members. recently, a¬†member posted how she has been feeling left out because her friends who don’t have kids planned a trip to vegas without her. sure, she probably would not have been able to make it but it still hurt to not have been invited especially by your close friends. yes, our priority is raising a child but we still yearn to have a girls’ night out or a romantic getaway with a significant other without worrying about a baby. parenthood can be lonely especially if most of your friends don’t have children. it’s one reason why many moms are active on facebook – it gives them a peek into what others are doing so we aren’t totally isolated.

friendship is a two-way street and something that constantly needs to be maintained. however, in the defense of first-time parents, we don’t mean to be “bad friends.” we aren’t intentionally trying to cut people out of our lives or ignore your texts and calls… we are simply overwhelmed and exhausted beyond belief. ¬†because of recent supply issues, i have been pumping every 3-4 hours to maintain supply and also store milk since penny’s been having a bottle preference. this means that although penny sleeps anywhere from 7-12 hours straight at night i set alarms to wake up EVERY 3 HOURS so i can pump. and usually i am nodding off while pumping – once, milk started spilling out of the containers because i had dozed off and hadn’t realized that they were full. i wish i could sleep, but i can’t.

okay, so if it’s difficult to go out then how come you’re able to meet up with other moms? first, going out with a baby is a feat in itself and something i’ve slowly become more confident in doing. besides, truth be told, it’s just EASIER to meet up with mom-friends because they GET you. did you plan a get-together¬†but suddenly have to cancel because of a baby-related issue? we totally empathize… whereas other friends may wonder why it warrants a rain check. there is no need to explain anything to one another because we’re going, and have gone, through it. our outings are punctuated with pit stops – feed the baby, change the baby, soothe the baby… i’m not sure non-mommy friends would be as patient or understanding, but i could be mistaken. in all honesty, i guess i’m feeling resentful because there are still “friends” whom i have not spoken to since penny was born… nor have they visited her. i didn’t mean for this post to turn into a rant-fest but it’s something that’s been bugging me for some time. we have friends that live near and far… and many have made the effort to come visit and see how we are doing, but some have not. maybe they’ve been busy these past four months, or perhaps they think they would be a bother but how would you know if you don’t reach out? there’s not much i can do or say besides “come visit!” (which i have plenty of times – you can’t force people to go out of their way to come see you).

the reason why i’m sharing this is because i used to be that person who dismissed other new parents. “oh, they’re boring now and don’t WANT to go out anymore,” or “i don’t understand why you CAN’T go out.” now i see that babies’ awake time is around an hour and a half and we have to plan outings around their naps most of the time. it may seem like i’m being lazy but it’s so much easier for you to come visit me rather than me having to drive with a baby to see you. if the baby is tired, i can just put her down for a nap in her room instead of having to deal with a crying, overtired baby in a noisy, crowded place. would¬†you want to drive with a fussy baby in the back seat by yourself? probably not.

in the meantime, i have been making more of a conscious effort to meet up with friends to keep the friendship alive. i’m grateful for the ones that have been, and continue to, keep in touch to see how the baby and i are doing. as penny gets older, her awake time increases as well as her ability to handle unfamiliar people and environments; but for now making a long-distance trip solo to see friends and family is out of the question.

to all the baby-free peeps, in the words of biggie smalls: if you don’t know, now you know..

hair today, gone tomorrow

i was hoping it wouldn’t happen, but it has.

during pregnancy, my hair became thicker and more lush. i had a lot of hair to begin with but pregnancy hormones caused less of my hair to fall out. naturally, we shed hair every day but this process stalls during pregnancy making it seem like you’re growing more when in fact you’re just losing less. my normally paper-thin fingernails were also stronger and seemed to be growing at an alarming rate. (i felt like i was clipping my nails all the time!)

now that i’m 3.5 months postpartum, the hair-shedding process has begun. i began noticing strands of hair on my arm, on my clothes, and in penny’s clenched fists! while rocking penny to sleep, i noticed how stray hairs kept tickling my forehead prompting me to repeatedly, but ineffectively, brush them away. these, i saw, were baby hairs. what’s interesting is that penny has been losing hair as well. however, i feel like she’s losing it more so because she’s been grabbing at her own hair. now that she’s more environmentally and physically aware, she’s always staring at her hands and using them to feel and grasp. she’s been tugging at her hair mainly on her left side so it’s noticeably thinner on the left side of her head.

there’s really not much you can do to prevent hair loss. i still take my prenatal vitamins every day and it still happens. the good news is your hair eventually grows back. same with the baby’s.

a more serious problem that i’ve been recently experiencing is the gradual loss of my milk supply. every summer around this time i develop a chronic cough that is caused by an excess of mucus. i’m not sure if it has to do with allergies or the weather, but it keeps me up at night… and has also awoken penny many times while holding her because i haven’t been able to suppress it. i began taking mucinex dm last monday and i noticed that i was producing less breast milk. i couldn’t feel my milk come in and penny began fussing while nursing because, i assume, there wasn’t enough milk. prior to this incident i never had to switch breasts while nursing because penny had been satiated from nursing on one side. now, she would begin fussing around the 5-minute mark and she would unlatch/relatch for another 5 or so minutes before getting hysterical. after i switched her to the other side, the same thing would happen.

besides the mucinex, i believe that my supply has been decreasing because penny has been distracted. during the 3-4 month mark, babies become hyper-aware of their surroundings and stare at objects in an almost trance-like state. no matter where i nurse, penny unlatches to look at something, be it a lamp, a blanket, or artwork. i even nurse in penny’s room with only a small table lamp on but something always manages to catch her eye! because she has been consuming less, her sleep has been impacted as well.  she used to sleep a good stretch of 6+ hours a night and then she began waking up only a few hours after going down for the night. three days ago it was 11:30pm, and two nights ago she woke up at 9:30pm! she didn’t just wake up needing to be rocked back to sleep; she was guzzling 4 ounces of milk! since she was consuming less in the day, she was making up for it at night. not fun.

*edit: last night she slept from 7pm-4am! i didn’t set my alarm to pump because i thought she’d wake up a lot sooner. just as i finished pumping she woke up so i couldn’t nurse her, but dennis bottle fed her 5 oz (to make up for the long stretch of sleep). she drank it all and slept for another 2.5 hours.

unfortunately, i think the nighttime wakings have been exacerbated by the dreaded 4-month sleep regression. though named for the fourth month, this sleep regression can happen anytime between a baby’s third-fifth month. this usually occurs because the baby is developmentally growing at a rapid rate (like rolling!), and with all the stimulation they are getting during the day it becomes difficult to sleep at night. furthermore, the baby’s sleep cycle starts to mature. this is where rem sleep comes in and babies find it tough to switch from one sleep cycle to the next. ever wonder why your baby repeatedly wakes up around the 45-minute mark? this is why. since penny’s nighttime sleep has been getting interrupted, she’s also trying to make up for it during the daytime.. and then she’s not tired enough at night to sleep in longer stretches.. it’s a vicious cycle. supposedly, you shouldn’t introduce any new sleeping methods (i.e if you don’t use a pacifier, don’t introduce a new crutch now.) because it should all go back to “normal” eventually. the question: how long will this last? it’s different for every baby. some claim their baby only goes through it for a week but others can last as long as six! i sincerely hope it’s not the latter for me.

penny doing tummy time on her pororo mat

penny doing tummy time on her pororo mat

penny on her new pororo mat

recently, we purchased a pororo mat (korean company) for penny. they retail for a little over $100 on amazon for the large mat. a little pricey (and this is the sale price), but totally worth it. penny does most of her tummy time and play time on here. since i’ve been consistent with tummy time, penny has started to roll over! dennis was the first to witness it during penny’s 14th week and i was finally able to see it for myself at her 15th week. since then she has been rolling from tummy to back nearly every day.

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the first thing i have penny do when she wakes up for the day is tummy time either in her crib or on the floor on top of a blanket. a great way to encourage your baby to like or, at least, endure tummy time is to provide things for her to look at. i usually get on the floor with her and talk to her, and i also lay out toys in a half circle so she’s turning to the side to look at them.

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here she is looking at her mobile. she’s still got a lot of hair! that “bedhead” is actually what her hair looks like every day because of two cowlicks on the back of her head. i liken her hair to donald trump’s -_- for some reason, double cowlicks have a bad reputation: anything from being left-handed (why is this bad?) to autism! these are all myths, of course… and penny is already showing preference for her right hand so that theory is incorrect. as penny’s hair grows longer and thicker, it should lay flat… but for now she always looks like she got caught in a windstorm.

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a mirror is a great way to encourage baby during tummy time.. and it also raises self-awareness.

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i just noticed that all the toys i laid out were all gifts ūüôā the lamb chop puppet that penny is fixated on was given to me by one of my former students.

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for babies that hate tummy time, putting them on your tummy counts! the wonder weeks app also suggests games like “airplane.”

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sweet father-daughter moments. i’ll be able to witness more of these on any given day because i’m taking a year off from work to be a sahm (stay-at-home mom). i’m so excited to be able to witness penny’s milestones and just being able to BE with her all day… before penny was born, i thought 4 months was enough time to bond with her but clearly not as i found myself in tears the first few months, dreading the day i would have to return to work.

dennis encouraged me to stay home not only to ease my distress but he truly believes that the best person for penny is me. no one else has that -bond- with a baby quite like the mother. this is one reason why i am so devastated by my supply issue. i’ve been pumping every 3-4 hours to bring it back up, nursing whenever i can, drinking mother’s milk tea, and eating, eating, eating. i’ve already started to see an increase but it’s still not enough particularly in the evening before bedtime. it’s quite disheartening to hear penny cry because she’s not satisfied.  at least i am able to (hopefully) rectify the problem without having to worry about work as well. i love teaching but it can’t top being penny’s #1 teacher. she’s growing and learning so much every day, and i don’t want to miss anything.