It’s a Girl!

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No, we are not pregnant. Haha. Now that’s out of the way, we attended our dear friends’ gender reveal party for their second baby! You probably saw tons of adorable pictures of Emma and her newest friend, Camden on my social media. Well, Camden is going to be a big brother and Emma will have another girlfriend in the neighborhood! All my girlfriends and I are super excited for the baby girl to join our gang this August. Can’t wait to meet the little nugget! 🙂

Ever since moving to our neighborhood, we made some really good friends. Without having family nearby, I’m so grateful for these girlfriends who are like family to us. And with all the babies close in age, there’s always lots of room for fun family time! After all, it takes a village to raise children! 🙂

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First Santa Encounter

‘Tis the season to be jolly! I absolutely love the year end festivities. We get tons of family time and holiday spirits are all around! For Thanksgiving, we spent a week in Chicago with Steve’s family, it was nice getting some quality time with them as we don’t get to see them too often. Christmas will be spent in our home with my side of the family. It’ll be our first Christmas in our new home, so we are super excited!

This year we introduce Emma to Santa for the very first time. Although we celebrated Christmas last year as a family of three, Emma was only itty bitty newborn, so we didn’t take her to meet Santa. Our neighborhood had Santa come to the community lodge which was nice. Definitely better than waiting in line at the mall to meet Santa, it was more relaxing and not at all chaotic. But that didn’t make it any better for Emma, she immediately bursted into full on cry – no sound, holding her breath and all. It made for a cute picture though!

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First time seeing Santa!

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Maybe next year she will ease up to Santa. Fingers crossed! Emma’s friend Cole also came to see the Santa at the same time, so we had to take pictures of the babies. They were too adorable in their ‘picture with Santa’ outfits!

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We are continuing our tradition this year and picking out our Christmas tree this Sunday! It’s going to be extra fun because we are making a family photo session out of it! Can’t wait to share those photos! Stay tuned! 🙂

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Emma’s First Birthday Party: Korean Dol

In Korean culture, first birthday is a big celebration called dol (돌). There are several traditions to follow at the dol party. Both my husband and I are Korean American, and we definitely want our children to embrace their Korean heritage. So for Emma’s first birthday party,  we decided to keep as much of Korean traditions as we could. We wore traditional Korean garments called hanbok (한복); set up dol table to display traditional first birthday items and food such as rice cakes, colorful fruits, dates, and dol towers; and had an activity called doljabi, a fortune telling ritual at first birthday parties. I also wanted to incorporate modern day birthday decor, so Emma’s dol table was combined with sweets, birthday cakes and decorations. To add a personal touch, I arranged her party decor and even made some decorations from scratch. We incorporated one of her favorite books, “Oh the Places You’ll Go”, and it ended up working out pretty well – a low key themed party.

We were so fortunate to have almost all of our immediate family members join us for the weekend and even had a few of my close girlfriends fly in from Chicago! The preparation of Emma’s first birthday was stressful, but it was all so worth it seeing all of our loved ones! Emma must have felt the love and care as well because she was so well behaved the entire day – even through multiple outfit changes! 😉

As for the doljabi activity, Emma took 20 minutes to choose an item. She definitely did not act on impulse and ended up choosing pencils then money after deep contemplation. 😉

We also did the ever so popular “cake smash”. She was a bit confused at first on what to do with the cake, but as soon as she tasted it, it was game over. 😀

I really can’t say enough about how grateful I am to have spent a wonderful day with our family and friends. Thank you all so very much for celebrating Emma’s special day with us, and thanks to others who could not make it but sent gifts and lots of love! I know, I say this all the time, but Emma truly is so blessed!

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Halloween Fun

I’m not gonna lie, having a toddler (yes, she’s a toddler now!) makes Halloween so much more fun! Because we were away from home for a good chunk of October, we didn’t get to prepare for Halloween. I’m sad to report, even though Steve and I like to dress up, we just didn’t get around to it this year like we did last year. But we couldn’t pass up an opportunity to dress Em up and partake in the neighborhood’s festivity! Her costume was a no brainer. We had to go with a puppy. I mean, it’s her favorite animal. She just goes crazy over dogs!

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We were especially excited about celebrating Halloween in our new neighborhood. Our neighborhood is huge with tons of families with kids/babies, so I knew Halloween night was going to be big! And as predicted, it did not disappoint. The streets were filled with trick or treaters! The club house had a kids’ Halloween party, so we stopped by for a bit and it was jammed packed! I can’t wait until next year when Em can actually go door to door trick or treating. It’s going to be so much fun!

Since moving into the neighborhood, I befriended a couple of neighborhood moms, so I thought it would be a great idea to take some pictures of our babes in their costumes. And I’m so glad we did, because look how darling they are! We decided to make this a tradition each year for Halloween, and we cannot wait to show these pictures to them when they are older!

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Thank you so much, Morgan, a fellow mama blogger and a photographer for snapping these shots of our babes!

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To Emma (Letter #1)

Our dearest Emma,

You came into our world a year ago on October 2nd, 2015. Your grand entrance was as dramatic as it could be, just like the bright star you are! You gave us a scare with malrotation and emergency surgery, but mama and dada knew you would be as strong as ever. The past year, you have been thriving, surprising us with your appetite and developmental growth. Everyday with you was something new even when we didn’t sleep for the first three months. 😉 Despite the lack of sleep, you always brought so much joy in our household and we are so thankful to have a healthy , happy and sweet, sweet baby.

When we found out that you were going to be a girl, we knew Emma would be the perfect name. It was daddy’s first choice and the meaning of “whole” and “universal” fit so perfectly with what we wish for you to be one day. We want you to explore the world, in tune with everything around you – the best life lessons come from travelling and experiencing different cultures and people. And we hope that you too will enjoy travelling as much as we do. This will make you a well balanced person and it will make you whole.

Always follow your heart and your passion, and don’t hesitate to understand others before yourself. Being selfless is one of the best characteristics to have. Don’t get caught up in greed because greed will always make you think you don’t have enough, and you will never be able to stop and breathe. Even though we’d like to shield you from all things negative, you will find yourself in a slump one day, there’s no way around it. But please know that it shall pass, it always does. Things happen for a reason, and bad things end to make room for good things. Change isn’t always bad, it can be good, we promise. And always remember, no matter what, we will forever love you.

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Happy first birthday, baby girl. We are so lucky to be your parents.

-mama and dada

One Year Postpartum Update

Hooray! We survived the first year and kept our little babe happy and healthy! To be honest though, first year literally flew by. I feel like it wasn’t too long ago when I could feel her tiny feet kicking in my belly, now she is taking steps with those tiny feet!

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At the end of 9 months she started crawling on her hands and knees then she was off! I think she was waiting for this discovery, because once she found out how to crawl, she moved around the entire house on her hands and knees in warp speed! By 10.5 months old, she was pulling herself up on everything she could get her little hands on – sofa, consoles, stairs, chairs etc. One of her favorite activities is pulling out the drawers and taking everything out. More work for mama to clean after her mess… LOL. The first time she stood for a long time unsupported was around when Emma was 11 months old. She pulled out a drawer from her dresser and pulled herself up. She dug around and found something she liked then magically started standing on her own with the object she pulled out of the drawer in her hands. From then on, she started standing on her own longer and longer, and now she is standing and taking a couple of steps without any support. I think she’s a very cautious baby though. She’s scared to let go of our hands and walk freely. I’m not in a hurry for her to walk anyway because that means we have to chase her 24/7. Haha.

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in traditional Kazakh hat and handmade booties I bought when I was on a business trip in Kazakhstan ❤

At one year old, she has 6 teeth visible, her 4th tooth at the bottom came out at 10 months and by 10.5 months, she had two top teeth. We now see another set of two coming out from the top, but they have not broken through yet. She is also  more verbal now, repeating a lot of things we say and making all sorts of different sounds. She would mimic animal sounds and lets us know when she is fascinated about something by making “OOohhH” sounds. It is the cutest thing! It’s super darling to see her very animated, copying everything we do – she does this one thing where she puts her hands on her head and says “WOW”, and she knows when she is being cute! She would scrunch her nose and put on the biggest grin while tilting her head to one side. I mean, come on! You can get away with ANYTHING with that face! We are so in trouble!!

As for solids, we are now off of formula altogether. She kind of started weaning herself off a week before she turned one. She’d eat more table food and less formula. Once she turned one, I transitioned off of formula to whole milk. We still give her whole milk in a bottle when she wakes up and before she goes to bed – but no more bottle feeding during the day! Man, it feels good not having to do that and lugging around bottles and water! Now we gotta tackle getting rid of bottles. I tried giving her morning milk in a sippy cup, but she didn’t drink any! Babies are strange, she does fine with water in a sippy cup, but not milk. We shall see how this transition goes.. as always, I’m mostly going with the flow.

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She was saying, “oooooh!”

For me, one year postpartum seems surreal. I just cannot believe my baby is one and it’s been a full year since I gave birth! I definitely feel more like a seasoned mama, haha. I’m not as anxious or paranoid about raising a baby. I definitely feel more comfortable in my parenting style and I no longer freak out if I forget to pack something in her diaper bag. 😉 Now only if I can lose the last stubborn 10 lbs of preggo weight…I’ll be golden! But I really can’t complain since I haven’t done much to help lose the weight. I shall report back once I have done so. 😉 All in all, the past year was an amazing experience for me, I grew as a mother which in turn made me grow as a person. Believe it or not, I learned more about motherhood through Emma than anything I’ve read in books or the internet. She helped me shape into the mother I am today and my only hope is that Emma will always be proud to have me as her mother.

The monthly postpartum update will end here, but stay tuned for periodic toddler updates!

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Baby Talk: Starting Solids

Starting solids is both super exciting and super nerve-racking! I debated between traditional weaning and baby-led weaning and decided to do both. I felt more comfortable giving her purees and incorporating chunky foods for her to pick up. We started solids when Em was about 5.5 months with rice cereal per our pediatrician’s recommendation. Bad move. Em immediately got constipated even though she only ate it twice! After that, we never went back to rice cereal. It broke my heart to see her struggling with constipation not to mention constantly worrying if it has to do with her malrotation. Thankfully, with apple juice and prunes, she went back to having regular bowel movements. Post rice cereal episode, we gave her food that helped with her bowel movements – peaches, peas, pears, prunes (all the “p” foods). Then we gradually incorporated everything else. She loved everything we fed her except eggs and avocados. She literally cried when she first tasted eggs – video here. It’s hilarious.

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5.5 months old – first time trying solids!

highchair – Graco Blossom 4-in-1 Seating System in Winslet

Now at almost 9 months, she eats pretty much anything allowed for her age (she still doesn’t like eggs). She chews and swallows pretty well and is crazy about food! It’s so much fun seeing her get so excited about foods she tries for the first time. We gave a slice of watermelon because um, what’s summer without it? And she LOVED it! Can’t wait for her to get more teeth, it’s going to be a fun journey enhancing her palate.

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