summer daze

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

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

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

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we took a family photo before we explored the park

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penny enjoyed the splash pad the most!

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

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ezra did not like the jet spray of cold water

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

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

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splash!

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waiting…

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walking the dinosaur trail

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dinosaur vertebrae

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ezra always has something in his mouth these days

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dinosaur maze

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

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my go-to: fried clam strips

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new england clam chowder and a cheeseburger

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

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

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

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

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always smiling

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100 days of ezra

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

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

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

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

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

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getting fresh air after a rainstorm

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

7.15 will’s 2nd birthday

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bounce

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the birthday boy

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nelsens

 

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

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

summertime shenanigans

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last saturday, dennis and i attended a wedding in norwalk, ct. he was able to get the day off so we could go, but he still had to work the next day… which was really unfortunate since it was a 1.5 hour drive each way. we left the party around 10:30 and came home at midnight.

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yikes, the selfie image came out way too pixelated

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close buds – dennis and andy (not the groom)

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we had a lovely time celebrating victoria and andrew. as many of you may know, i love to take pictures. the only reason why i don’t have many photos from the wedding (particularly of the married couple) is because there was no ceremony. the mr. and mrs. decided to do a civil ceremony and then celebrate with their family in england where the bride’s family resides. the party on saturday was just a reception for family and friends.

instead of a standard photo booth, theirs printed out 4×6 images which was unique! we glued some onto the guest book and kept the copies. there were even clear sleeves to protect the photos. in addition, there was a cigar bar. dennis and i had considered this for our wedding too but we ended up nixing it because the costs kept mounting for our big day…

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recently, i found out that the park near us has a baby-friendly playground and a splash pad. sure, we live next to an elementary school with two playgrounds that we visit on a daily basis but it’s awesome to have another one to go to.. and with, again, a splash pad for a girl who adores water!

i befriended another mommy that goes to story hour at jack & allie’s. it turns out she lives about a 3-minute drive from us! she has a 17-month-old son who is absolutely adorable. we met up once at the park and we are looking to go tomorrow as well.

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after we figured out this was a splash pad, i began taking penny here!

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as you can see, penny’s been standing on her own more and more. she still needs assistance to stand on her own and often uses nearby objects as well. once she does that, i’m guessing she’ll start taking some steps.. so, we wait.

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playdate at olivia’s

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they love water crackers

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she tried hot dogs for the first time!

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homemade sweet potato fries

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july 17th was national ice cream day so penny and i went to carvel for bogo soft serve!

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um, yes.. i’m playing pokemon go

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this picture is from today. look how tan penny’s feet are! 

it’s going to be busy the next few days! our town’s summer carnival kicked off tonight but we are stopping by tomorrow evening after dinner to check out the rides. we are hoping to take penny on the ferris wheel, carousel, and some other baby-friendly rides. also, we are going up to boston from friday-sunday. we are supposed to have a heat wave starting tomorrow so i assume it’ll feel suffocatingly hot in the city with all the buildings blocking the wind. we plan on going to boston common to go on the swan boat and bring penny to the splash pad at frog pond!

hopefully things work out.. penny skipped her afternoon nap today after having taken two naps since the june 29th incident. she has been taking a long time to fall asleep for her afternoon one though. lately she’s falling asleep around 3pm or even later.. and it’s taking her a half hour-hour to fall asleep! today, she finally just skipped it entirely and i got her at 3:30. i’m contemplating pushing her morning nap to 11am tomorrow to see how she does with one nap. the goal is to be at 12:30/1pm for the one-nap schedule.. i’m actually really nervous to start trying this before our boston trip. i guess i’ll just see how she does tonight and tomorrow morning!

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 😦

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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?

 

3 months and counting

sweet p is 3 months old! 

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sleepy eyes 🙂

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it’s quite the hassle trying to get these monthly photo shoots done since i do it by myself. i do it when she wakes up so she’s not as fussy and there is less danger of her spitting up on her clothes. as you can see, the polo dress is already getting to be too small for her even though the size is 3 months. this was her first time wearing it too!

now more than ever, she is grabbing, pulling, and pushing toys all the time now. she loves to lay in the boppy lounger and play with the toys that i hang on the arch above the pack and play. i try to rotate the toys so she won’t get bored. another thing i noticed is that penny is starting to put my hand in her mouth. whenever i hold penny, i usually have her in the sitting position facing outward so she can see everything. since my arm is across her chest for support, my hand is near her mouth and she leans forward to lick and nibble on it. her sensory awareness is definitely heightened and i love watching her explore, and also get entranced by different things.

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the other day, i looked down to check on penny and the arch had fallen on her! i probably didn’t secure it well enough and when she tugged on the toys, it fell over 😀 of course i had to take a picture first.IMG_0853

as she becomes more aware of her surroundings, penny is also getting easily distracted during feedings. sometimes the time spent nursing is doubled because she will constantly unlatch/relatch after gazing at an object. ever since she began focusing on objects, she has been staring at tall objects and anything on the ceiling such as lights and ceiling fans. i could walk by the kitchen while holding her and she will bend over backwards just to look at the pendant lights over the breakfast bar! it’s rather hilarious. since she likes looking at lights so much i turn them on and off for her.

gazing at the chandelier as always

gazing at the paper fans on the wall

she loves the chandeiler

she loves the chandelier

i may have mentioned in previous posts how penny dislikes doing tummy time. i have to catch her at the right time to do it. i have had penny do tummy time after a feeding (after she’s burped and played) but she still ended up spitting up a lot because of the pressure on her stomach. now i have her do tummy time as soon as she wakes up and it seems to be working out better. i also talk to her and encourage her to keep her motivated… having toys nearby helps too so she can focus on them.

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happy girl!

happy girl!

on monday, dennis and i took his mom and penny to the beach. we went to harkness memorial park which has a small beach area. since it was monday, there weren’t too many people there. the downside is that swimming is not allowed probably because it’s rocky near the shore, and it looked like there was a steep drop-off. people still waded in though to cool off since it was in the 90s that day.

penny has trouble napping on-the-go so i was anxious about the car ride (1 hr. 15 min. each way without traffic) and how she’d fare at the beach. since penny had been taking short naps lately, we got the car loaded and ready to go as soon as she went down for her first nap. little did we know she would nap for 3 hours! (we went to church together for the first time the day before so she still may have been tired from that.) dennis and i ended up sitting around waiting for her to wake up. maybe because of that lengthy nap, she was great during the entire trip! right when she woke up, i nursed her and we set off. dennis’ mom sat in the back with penny and kept her comfortable. she was quiet the whole day down save a few protests when we were stuck in traffic and she wanted the car to move.

at the beach, dennis pitched a tent we had bought specifically for little p so she could stay out of the sun. the tent also offers spf50 shade which gave us a peace of mind. the ideal window for her naptime had passed so she started getting a little fussy. dennis’ mom cradled her and penny ended up falling asleep in her arms. she took a catnap for a half hour while we sunbathed and ate lunch. when she woke up, i nursed her and applied baby-friendly sunblock so we could all explore the beach together.

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angel <3

angel ❤

i was finally able to wear my new bikini

i was finally able to wear my new bikini

i had to purchase a new bikini because all the tops for the ones i have now are too small. never in my life did i think i’d wear a d/dd size. i actually could’ve gotten up a size because it started getting tighter once the milk started coming in o.o

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whenever we try to take a family photo, penny has her mouth open.. it never fails.

whenever we try to take a family photo, penny has her mouth open.. it never fails.

my loves

my loves

touching the ocean for the first time!

touching the ocean for the first time!

look at her pout, lol!

look at her pout, lol!

daddy & daughter

daddy & daughter

we left around 5 so we could make it back in time for penny’s bedtime. on the way we stopped to get fried clam rolls (dennis’ idea) and they were delicious. as soon as we got home, we did the bedtime routine and she was in bed by 7:40.. a little later than usual but it was also close to 6:30 by the time we got home. sure it’s nice to be out and about with your baby, but i believe it’s very important for babies to sleep especially if you’re trying to have them on a routine. plus, an overtired baby is not fun for anyone. if i can help it, i’m not going to be out with penny past 5 until she’s older.

look how tired she was!

look how tired she was!

the above picture was taken on sunday. i took penny to church for the first time and she was overwhelmed by all the attention. she came home and napped for 1.5 hours only waking because she was hungry. i nursed her on the couch and she passed out for another 1.5 hours. i didn’t dare move her so i sat there, trapped, and watched the pga championship. at least i was able to relax and watch tv.. something i never do when penny’s awake. we are trying to avoid screen time for penny until she’s, at least, 2 years old.

ready for church!

ready for church!

the adorable elephant dress is a gift from liz and andy when they vacationed in thailand.

going back to the importance of sleep… penny has strong reflexes which used to awaken her from sleep too early. she would wake up crying because she was still tired and we would have to put her down again.

after reading rave reviews on the magic merlin suit, we purchased one during her growth spurt. she ended up waking up every four hours because she was hungry but i don’t discredit the suit since she was going through her 12-week growth spurt. after that ended, she began sleeping 7+ hours again with the suit’s help.

looking at it, it seems too bulky and warm for the baby but as long as the ac is on and your baby is wearing minimal clothing, she’ll be fine. the fluffiness of the suit softens the baby’s reflexes to decrease the likelihood of her waking up. there were a few instances where penny definitely would’ve woken up because she let out soft cries and flailed her legs but the suit soothed her back to sleep.

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we purchased it in yellow since we may have a boy in the future and would want him to use it too

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if you google image the merlin suit, you will find many adorable babies wearing what looks like a snowsuit. it makes penny look like big hero 6. 🙂 initially, she didn’t like the suit because it was hard to put her arms through the sleeves. (be careful that you don’t pull on their arms.) we guide her arms in through the sleeves using her elbows and stick our hand in through the sleeves to make more room for her arm to go through.

now when we lay her on top of the suit, we give her a pacifier as we put her arms and legs inside it and zip her up. she only wears a light cotton undershirt and diapers while in the merlin suit. we also put her in it for every nap because there are days she’ll only take 30-45 minute naps. those though, i found, aren’t totally solved by the suit but at least she sleeps long stretches at night.

watching daddy vacuum in the finished basement

watching daddy vacuum in the finished basement

penny kept waking up so we kept her preoccupied while getting things done around the house. she loves the sounds of the vacuum, washer/dryer, and the blow dryer.

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look how cute and content she is 🙂