let go, and let God

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d-18 until penny’s party! i think it’s safe to say that the majority of 2016 was spent agonizing over the details of penny’s first birthday. for the most part, i’ve completed the dol towers – all 3 of them – but i still need to do the tops. i need a break from those for now, and there are other pressing matters that i need to attend to.

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for instance, this saturday my friend, mouy, and i were going to make a day trip up to boston to drop some decor off at my parents’ house. dennis and i already have so much to bring up (i.e pack and play, stroller, etc.) the day before the party so we wanted to make sure we have enough room in the car. i had to postpone this trip because i realized that my idea for a backdrop isn’t going to work because it’ll be too big to transport even in an suv. so, i was left scrambling for alternative ideas. genie assisted in helping narrow down the options, and saturday will be spent (hopefully) starting and completing the backdrop with the help of two friends!

a lot has happened since the last post. penny’s first tooth is finally trying to break through! we can see, and feel, the top of a tooth on her bottom gum. she’s been fussy during the daytime lately but usually during mealtimes. she’d rather play than sit in a high chair… she’s still sleeping very well at night so we haven’t noticed any changes (thank goodness).

penny had also outgrown her car seat a while ago but we kept putting off purchasing a convertible seat because we figured she would be okay until her first birthday. but then we noticed her feet were sticking out from the car seat more than they had been, and we read an article that a fellow parent had shared in a parenthood group on facebook about switching to convertible seats sooner rather than later. dennis had taken a picture from the newest edition of the baby bargains book and the britax boulevard clicktight was the best-rated of the bunch, so we went with that. it arrived yesterday and we can tell penny is already much more comfortable in it. we already took her to the pool for a family swim, cheesecake factory for dinner, and to the grocery store.


our friends, esther and william, came down from massachusetts with baby olivia (aka ollie) to visit us a few weeks ago. this is olivia k., not olivia g. (genie’s “olivia.” 😀 – a very popular name this year!) it was super sweet of them to make that drive to come see us and we all had a wonderful time. we joked that the boys seemed to enjoy the play date the most but in all seriousness i think they did. they played table tennis, ps4, and basketball while esther and i … played with the babies -_- no, but still, i’m glad dennis had fun because he doesn’t really get to “play” much and i enjoyed my time with esther just having girl talk.

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dennis’ 31st birthday was on the 17th and he spent the day golfing with his buddies. he ended up being late for a family dinner but he had had a great day, so that’s all that matters.

after an enjoyable weekend with friends, dennis and i realized how we need to take more time to take care of ourselves, and have fun too. as much as penny is the light of our lives, we can’t forgot to “treat” ourselves and go out once in a while without her. yes, we’ve been on a few vacations since penny was born but a date night needs to happen more often. being home with penny all day, i sometimes forget how deprived i am of adult interaction. thankfully, my in-laws live nearby so usually they can take care of penny if i have dates with friends.

i was able to catch up with two friends that i worked with a few years ago. one recently got married and the other is getting married in july. we went out for happy hour and just laughed and laughed about our teaching experiences.. while also griping about the education system.

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i guess i’ll make light of it even though it’s a heavy topic but i got laid off recently. connecticut, like all of the other states, has had a major cut in their budgets for schools so teachers are getting laid off and schools are closing. the town that i’m working in laid off 17 teachers (it actually became 15 because 2 resigned) and may even close one elementary school. it’s all by seniority and i missed the cut-off date by two months. truthfully, i was upset (and shocked) and even cried although i had been feeling ambivalent about returning in the fall. it’s more of a pride thing, you know?

so many friends, and of course dennis above all, have been sending love and offered encouraging words like how i get to spend even more time with penny. plus, i can always work somewhere else. two teachers have been rehired in the meantime and i’m actually third in line to be called back so there’s a possibility. i fervently believe everything happens for a reason so i’m letting go, and letting God.

oh! another important event occurred that weekend: penny’s cake smash! i’ll actually not go into too much detail here because it’ll end up being a l o n g post with a plethora of pictures.. so i’ll save that for the next post, but.. it went well and i’m glad it’s done and over with! i’ll share a few pictures here for those that were not able to view them on facebook. again, i’ll go into specifics in the next post and share how i created a “home studio” and made a giant cupcake. we saved a lot of money this way!

until then, enjoy these adorable pictures 🙂

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10 months and counting!

IMG_5295we’ve reached the double digits for months – just two more and she’ll be a year old :-O

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it hasn’t yet been a week since my last post but so much has happened since then. and, i don’t want the following entry to be super long because it’s crammed with everything that has been going on. i’m trying to whip this post out while penny naps because after she wakes up, i’m taking her to michael’s crafts store to buy more spray paint and other items for sprucing up her new ikea furniture.

we took a family outing (grandparents included) to ikea on monday to buy “a few items” for penny’s playroom and ended up spending over $500.. how…?! it’s so easy to spend money… my gosh, but these are all things we need for her playroom.. for the most part. as a first birthday gift, the so grandparents got penny a play kitchen along with pots/pans/colander and plush produce. the kitchen comes in a standard white-and-wood color but i wanted to spruce it up. same with the latt table and chair set. i already began glamming it up by spray painting the kitchen fixtures gold. one of the chairs i spray painted a petal pink color, and i want to buy 4 more colors today. (i ran out of the gold, too.) i have painter’s tape all over the furniture because i am going to do color-blocking for the tables and chairs.

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instead of getting started on the dol towers, i’m putting my energy into her furniture.. well, i still have 2 months left to do those and i don’t want the unassembled furniture sitting around in the boxes because penny will keep trying to play with them. we are also aiming to paint the walls so we’ll have to get started before hanging things like shelves, penny’s growth chart, and artwork.

thankfully penny’s playroom is our walk-out basement so even if i’m alone i manage to work on these projects. i step outside for a few minutes to spray paint while penny and yuri peer through the glass door. then i leave the pieces out on craft paper to dry and i keep painting as needed. i also have her nap times and bedtime to work on them as well.

i’ll be sure to show the finished products in a future post!

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neil’s donuts!

random doughnut picture, but neil’s donuts in wallingford, ct has the best doughnuts.. and my friend, grace, drove there to get a box for her and got some for dennis and me as well! ❤

it’s amazing how much language penny acquires on any given day. although we speak a mixture of english and korean to her, we use a lot of korean phrases so it’s not a surprise that her first words are all in korean! and, she can say a total of 4 of them: 맘마 (food), 엄마 (mom), 아빠 (dad), and 까까 (crackers). the last one is fairly recent and she doesn’t really enunciate it as well as the other 3 words but we know what she means.

some other cute things she does is to give us kisses when we say 뽀뽀 (kiss). we lean in and she puts her wet mouth on our cheeks, haha. she also shakes her head back and forth when we say 도리도리. i’m not quite sure of the meaning on that one but it sounds similar to 돌다 which means “to turn around.” however the other phrase is spelled differently and my mil thinks it has a japanese origin from back when korea was under japanese rule.

when you go back and forth between languages, things get lost in translation. sometimes there aren’t words to adequately describe or define what it is you’re talking. this is so true of the korean language. for instance, the word 애교. simply put, it means to act in a cute manner but even that doesn’t capture the true meaning of the word. however, it applies to girls acting all cutesy mostly for attention. penny definitely knows how to put on a show because when we say 아이고~ 이뻐라! (oh, so pretty!) she tilts her head to the side. it’s so adorable and we all get a kick out of it. when my parents saw it for the first time they couldn’t stop laughing.

speaking of my parents, i was so happy that they drove down from boston – with a ton of korean food nonetheless – last friday. even though they only live a little less than two hours away, we don’t get to see them often because of the restaurant business. in my last post i mentioned how my parents had sold one of their restaurants. they had 3 and now they’re down to 1 which means more free time! my parents are looking forward to taking a long-overdue and well-deserved vacation this summer. and hopefully that means more visits as well.

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it’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood…

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brewing homemade jujube tea

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삼계탕, or cornish hen stew

olivia g.’s 1st birthday is in two-and-a-half weeks!! genie has been spending most of her free time finishing up decor and finalizing all the details for her party. it’s sheer madness how much emphasis, money and time is spent on the first birthday especially since it’s a huge ordeal in the asian culture. obviously it’s for the parents and pictures than for the little one, but..particularly as first-time parents we can’t really help but go all out. plus, with social media and pinterest displaying all the latest trends and cute details it’s easy to go overboard.

last saturday, genie and i drove down to new jersey for the day. although it was a baby-free day, nearly everything we did was for the babies. i set my alarm for 5am so i could get dressed and pump just before leaving the house. genie and i hit the road a few minutes before 7am and got to new jersey around 9. first stop: hmart (a korean supermarket). we expected it to be busy on a saturday morning but it seems as if they had just opened because it was fairly quiet and everyone else had a few decades on us. 😛

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the cooler was filled to the top

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view from kuppi cafe

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first birthday rice cake

although i mostly got snacks and a few necessities, genie’s sole purpose was to buy ingredients for olivia’s birthday lunch since she and her mom are making korean food for the party! as we stood in the check-out line, a 할머니 (grandma) placed her hands on our cart and started leaning on it. startled, we looked at her and she said that she was using it to help her stand up. we let her, of course, but we wondered if she was going to take it; we had a lot of bags to carry to the car along with a bag of ice. as we were paying, i tentatively made a move to get the cart and she asked if we needed it, and we said, “yes…” but then i quickly told her it was okay and genie ran out of the supermarket to find another cart. we didn’t mind helping her out but it was so bizarre that she zeroed in on our cart when there were so many around. maybe she thought we didn’t need it because we’re young..?

other stops we made were paris baguette where we each left with a giant bag of pastries and milk bread. then, yedang (a korean rice cake shop) to inquire about ordering a rice cake for a first birthday party, and then…pumping in the car -__- the main reason we took dennis’ suv down to jersey is because it has tinted windows, shades, and an outlet in the back row. we still had to take turns pumping (and the engine was running for a half hour) so i’m sure passers-by were wondering what was going on…

we met up with our friends, rob and almex, for lunch at a ramen shop. it was good but the sodium made me feel nauseous later on and i was hanging my head out the window like a dog :-X afterwards, we went to a coffee shop on the waterfront. it was funny because almex remarked how the name of the shop is weird (he pronounced it: coo-pee), and then i saw the sign: kuppi. right away i told him “it’s cup-pee” (which is how you say “coffee” in korean).;-)

lastly, we went to rose bedding & interiors to check out hanbok, a traditional korean clothing. there were so many pretty designs and they all cost over $100 for the baby ones. an outfit they will only wear once… eesh. we weren’t allowed to take pictures of the specialty ones – these are the ones that are made in-house- but genie stealthily snapped a photo while the shop owner assisted me with the water cooler. 😛

despite an early start to the day, it flew by quickly. we couldn’t believe it was already time to go home. we took turns driving so the other could pump in the front seat – oh man, we are so looking forward to weaning!!! – and made a pit stop at a diner in southern connecticut. as we made our way to the bathroom, we both exclaimed, “oh my god!” at the sound of britney belting out “baby, one more time…” turns out, there was a high school dance party going on in one of the banquet rooms and we wondered aloud if we would be able to get away with crashing it. alas, we were wearing jeans and the kids were dressed up.

i’m happy with my life right now, but sometimes… sometimes i get wistful and think how if i had the chance to go back and relive from 17 on, i’d “live it up” a little more. i was always so insecure and shy, and it took me until my 30s to truly start to embrace myself. but, hindsight is 20/20, isn’t it? just because i have a baby now doesn’t mean i can’t have fun.. it’s just a different kind of fun, i suppose. it’s not too late to check off all the things on my ever-growing bucket list, and i need to slowly get a move on that. i’m a different person today than when i was in high school, and i really am grateful about that.

 

hurry up & slow down

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penny is nearing her 10th month. 10! we are closing in on the double-digits here. she spends most of her awake time crawling and is ready to pass out by the time her nap time rolls around. now that she’s more mobile and burning more calories, she’s getting tired earlier. i tried to keep her up on a few occasions so she wouldn’t be taking naps so soon but then she ends up being grouchy and taking short naps.

this morning she woke up around 5:45am (ugh) but slept 11 hours straight last night so she was totally ready for the day. dennis got up with her and i slept a little longer after pumping. she was ready to sleep around 8am but we tried feeding her solids again (she hasn’t been receptive to breakfast lately) and she only took a few bites. after a short naptime routine in her nursery, she fell asleep around 8:40. *fingers crossed she sleeps longer than an hour*

as penny becomes more and more like a mini adult, i find myself caught in a mixture of emotions. as eager as i am to discover penny’s new-found skills, i also feel a twinge of sadness at her progress: she’s leaving the infant stage behind and becoming a toddler. 😥 it’s quite the paradox, isn’t it?

it’s getting increasingly difficult to change her diapers, give her baths, and feed her because she wants to go, go, go! we rarely cradle her anymore but when we do we are amazed at how tall she is. i never really thought i’d be this wistful of her wee newborn days, but she was so little then and there seemed to be all the time in the world for her to grow up.

even now, i find myself thinking, “i can’t wait until she’s older so we can ____.” there are future disney vacations (maybe one next year), beach outings, day trips, and jet-setting around the world to be had when her naps aren’t in the way of life. still, even when she is old enough, there’s the possibility that she’ll have siblings which makes it even more tough to travel.

but, for now, there’s just penny… and i want to take her all in and enjoy having just her for as long as we can. try not to look so far ahead. the future will happen. enjoy now; enjoy this moment.

penny and i went grocery shopping recently. what’s so special about that? well, dennis and i usually go grocery shopping together so one is pushing the stroller and the other is handling the cart. however, we needed some items that day (particularly fresh produce for baby food) so i took penny. it was her first time sitting in the shopping cart and she did well!

i don’t have a shopping cart seat cover so i used a thick blanket to pad the area for her. i also used a muslin swaddle blanket to cushion her legs and chest. i noticed that she jerks forward whenever i push the cart so the blanket helped her from teetering back and forth.

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observing other customers

penny was fairly quiet during the entire trip. she liked being free from the constraints of a hot car seat and she had a 360-degree view of the world.

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checking out the grocery list


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i made her laugh 🙂


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checking out the light fixtures and sprinklers


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she loves to read, like mommy! she’s checking out bridal magazines though.. too soon, too soon!


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she was getting hungry and tired.. this is after we purchased the groceries. passers-by were remarking how cute penny was when she started lying down.

penny’s finally attempting to hold the bottle on her own. she always could; she just never wanted to because she wants to play with toys. even now, she’s easily distracted but she’s starting to become a little more independent. she also started to “read” books during mealtimes. she loves the book “100 first word”: she squeals and smiles whenever she sees the book, and she flips through the pages on her own.

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i’m still making the majority of penny’s food. one easy recipe i tried recently is pastina. i got this recipe from a baby food cookbook and it only requires two ingredients: pastina and low-sodium chicken broth. pastina means “little pasta” and these are star-shaped (adorable).

lovely little pasta soup

1 1/2 c. low-sodium chicken broth

2 tbs. pastina

bring broth to a gentle boil and add pastina. stir occasionally and let cook for 7~8 minutes or until tender. serve warm. when reheating, add a little bit of water to the pastina. makes about 4 servings.

i didn’t think 2 tablespoons of pastina would be a lot but i was surprised how much there was after it was done cooking. the recipe says 4 servings but i definitely stretched to 6; it depends how much your baby wants to eat it. penny really liked it but i like offering her a variety of foods at mealtimes so she doesn’t get bored.

grace and i went to the mall last sunday to look for a wedding outfit. we are going to a friend’s wedding on 3/26 and have “nothing to wear.” we really wanted to find midi or maxi skirts but couldn’t find any we liked. i may have to buy an outfit online…

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enjoying godiva cones and breaking in grace’s new selfie stick


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i like macarons but i rarely eat them because they are so expensive. my favorite of the bunch was lemon poppy.

the northeast has been fortunate to have beautiful, warm weather this week! yesterday peaked at 75 degrees! it’s actually raining right now (boo) but the temperature is still 70. i’m glad we went out for a family walk around lunchtime because it looks as if i won’t be able to take penny and yuri out later. we are going to the library though after penny’s last nap.

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it was a little windy so dennis’ mom wrapped a scarf around her.


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looking like a little babushka


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selfie with mommy


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the playground is literally in our backyard. an elementary school is behind our neighborhood so we’ll be coming here often this summer!

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the photos below were taken yesterday when i took penny and yuri out for an early evening walk.

she’s so adorable with the sunglasses but like most babies, she’s not a fan. she actually took them off the first time (3rd photo, right after i took the picture). i bribed her with crackers and she kept them on after that but i felt bad so i took them off after a few minutes.

the middle picture is where she’s busy shoving a cracker in her mouth and it looks like she’s giving me the finger 😛

looking forward to this weekend! my parents are visiting for the day tomorrow with a ton of food from their restaurant (yay!!) and my friend’s birthday dinner is that night. then on saturday morning, genie and i are heading to new jersey for the day to shop, eat and meet up with friends 🙂

i’ve been taking a hiatus on making crafts for penny’s birthday but the invitations went out last week and guests are slowly sending in their rsvp’s. i can’t believe the party will be in 2 months!! i’m hoping to resume party planning next week; there are a lot of things that i need to make… onward ho!

milestones part II

today marks two years since dennis and i got married!

IMG_0147and i thought wedding planning was stressful. i still can’t believe i have a baby. dennis and i talk about how we feel like we are babysitting long-term.. it’s just all so surreal.

since dennis is working 2-10 today we celebrated our anniversary yesterday with a dinner and a movie. it was our first date night since penny was born! we were apprehensive about leaving her and kept thinking about her the entire time. she was in good hands but we had never left her in someone else’s care until then. mil came over, and penny ended up sleeping for 3.5 hours and then finished eating right as we came home.

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white sangria

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it felt great dressing up and being able to go out

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since we were gone from 4-9pm i packed my pump… how romantic, huh? we went to market grill for happy hour and drinks – my first one in ten months! – and then i pumped in the car while dennis went to purchase tickets for jurassic world 3d. we had been highly anticipating watching this movie and it ended up being alright. chris pratt is awesome though.

another milestone that recently occurred was penny’s 6-week mark. we had heard the 6-week growth spurt can be pretty brutal, and it didn’t spare us.  it can last up to a week for some people but thankfully ours was 2 days… 2 long days.

penny would not nap longer than 30 minutes and just wanted to continually eat. when she wasn’t eating, she was being fussy. last thursday was tough because i was by myself. dennis got out of work at 4 that day so he was able to help in the evening. he had friday off and assisted me all day.. otherwise i would not have been able to eat. for those that have/had babies, you know what i’m talking about… you’re stuck on the couch/recliner/wherever until the baby is satisfied. i try to surround myself with a full glass of water, snacks like a banana and a nature valley bar, and my phone to browse websites while i’m breastfeeding. it can be a l-o-n-g process especially during a growth spurt.

it’s very helpful if you have support during these times. i try to breastfeed whenever possible so dennis helps by refilling my water glass, feeding me, burping penny and putting her down for a nap. for those that bottle feed, it’s a little bit easier since someone else can do the feeding but then you still have to pump to keep up your supply. i hate pumping so i breastfeed as much as i can. i do continually add to my freezer and fridge stash by pumping before i go to bed and twice more during the wee morning hours when i have the most milk. penny usually feeds off one breast during the late night-early morning hours so i pump the other side after i put her down.

what made going through this stage a bit bearable was that penny has become a lot more active and social. she coos and gurgles often like she’s trying to talk. it’s so adorable!

she also has become more aware of her hands. she’s begun grasping things on her own and also becoming more sensitive to touch. today, since she wouldn’t nap (again), i put her in the baby bjorn and went out for a walk taking yuri along as well. she was fussy for the first ten minutes but soon fell asleep. i looked down at her and noticed that both of her hands were grasping the baby carrier. all the other times she had been in the carrier, her arms had hung limply by her sides. any changes i witness, big or small, i quickly record them in the Notes app on my iPhone so i can write them in the baby books when i have time later. if possible, i want to be able to remember everything so i try to document as much as i can.

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you really can’t help but smile back when a cute baby is this happy…

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the above picture is of my sister, jen. she came to visit last wednesday before the growth spurt started.

it’s great to have visitors when you’re up to it.. make sure they bring goodies like food especially during the first few weeks when you don’t have the time nor energy to make food.

IMG_0068 knowing my love for cupcakes, jen brought me a dozen mini ones 😀

dennis and i also went up to massachusetts for the day on saturday. we were nervous about bringing penny up for the first time because of her growth spurt. she was constantly cranky from not napping and we were worried about the 1.5 hour car ride each way along with how she was going to be being out and about all day. it seemed that the growth spurt ended friday night because she slept during the entire car ride and the majority of the time that we ate lunch. my parents own two korean restaurants in boston – they had three but sold one several months ago – so we ate lunch at one of the locations.

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탕수육, or tang soo yook, is lightly battered pieces of pork or beef with a tangy sweet & sour sauce

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we also ordered 두부김치제육볶음, tofu kimchi stir-fry, and 순두부찌게, or the soft tofu stew

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i love this backdrop. we took some engagement photos here as well.

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family portrait thanks to our selfie stick

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we met up with my sister, jen, and her boyfriend, brendan.. and our friend, almex

but the main reason for our trip was so my grandma could finally meet penny, her 17th great-grandchild!

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praying to God

IMG_0125ever since i got married, my grandma has been telling (pressuring) me to have a baby so when i told her the good news at ten weeks, she was ecstatic. i just wish we lived closer so she could see penny more often. 😦 i’m hoping to go up in a few weeks again… penny is growing so fast and it makes me sad that my family can’t see her as often as we’d all like. since we take so many photos of penny, i told myself that i’ll develop a bunch and mail them to my grandma so she can witness the growth and changes as well.

penny put up a valiant fight over taking her afternoon nap today. my mil came over with homemade mandoo (korean dumplings) and put penny to sleep while i finally ate. she has the magic touch because penny’s been sleeping for almost 2 hours now! i’m hoping i have time to eat 김치찌게 (kimchi stew) and wash the dishes before she wakes up.

enough writing today.. precious minutes are ticking away..