diapers, budgets & paint

stay-at-home mommy by day
program manager by night
children's painter somewhere in between


we *heart* books

in honor of emmy's never-ending love of books, i've added the "what emmy's reading" list to the site (on the right). i hope to keep track of her top six or so favorite books at any given moment, and if i'm good i'll even try to update it weekly. perhaps you'll find a new tome for your little one... remember, all books featured have the official emmy-stamp of approval!

p.s. - thanks for leaving such a sweet comment, rachel! we *heart* you too!

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things i love #1

i'm stealing citymama's idea, but here's a new feature recapping, well, things i love. in this first edition, it's things i've loved this past week (especially since i've been too busy to blog properly... sometimes you just have to get your housework and work-work done... and watch grey's anatomy):
  • berber carpet. six to ten of your favorite little ankle biters can spill drinks, crumble food, drool and enjoy messy-happy-fun-kid-time in your playroom and you won't notice a thing.
  • our dyson dc-14 animal. the only vacuum strong enough to suck thirteen pounds of crushed goldfish crackers and teddy grahams out of said berber carpeting. i love playgroups as much as the next mom, but man those kids can be destructive with their snacks.
  • sandra boynton at kohl's. i've never been a big fan of kohl's department store, but i do like their "kohl's cares for kids" program. they sell good, well-known books and toys for just $5 each, with proceeds benefiting health and educational opportunities for children. right now you can get 3 sandra boyton song books, each with an accompanying cd! we picked up rhinoceros tap, philidelphia chickens and dog train today. they also have stuffed characters from the boynton books but we have waaay too many furry friends for that deal.
  • lands end overstocks. i just ordered two new swimsuits at great clearance prices, and i have my fingers crossed that at least one will fit well! if emmy and i get into the aqua tots class, i'll need something to cover up my, uh... mommyness. on a happy note, as of this week i am FINALLY back to my pre-pregnancy weight! (yeah, i know, it only took 14 months... sigh.) i'm hoping to lose a little more too, but hey, aren't we all? it is amazing, however, how the weight distribution totally changes during and after pregnancy. (remember, blair - if you ever get a crazy notion to go into plastics, i sooo get the friends and family discount first!)
  • this blog. it's been a great way to meet some new friends and, best of all, reconnect with old ones.
aside from boring house stuff and work, em and i have been super busy this week with four different playgroups / playdates. we even managed to hang out with my neighbor and her two girls - they're hapas like me! her youngest looked very similar to emmy... it was so cute to watch them eat snacks together, stealing crackers and cheerios from each other's napkins. the older girl (4) was such a sweetie, giving emmy kisses and "reading" book after book to her. i only wish that we'd all met earlier and that they weren't planning to move this summer. oh well, we'll just have to make the most of the next few months!

emmy's making her papa proud in that picture - way to use an otoscope, dr. lee... and my, what keen fashion sense you have!

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kiss good night

emmy insisted that i read one of her favorite books earlier today (no surprise there, miss bookworm!). we've read kiss good night since em was still in my tummy so i happily obliged. but today, when we got to the page where mrs. bear remembers that she needs to kiss sam good night, emmy puckered up sweetly and gave me a kiss on the lips! and when sam cried "again!", i got a second surprise kiss too! sweetie pie, how did you know that your mommy needed that today?

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and then there was snow


apparently emmy and i went down for a long winter's nap today! upon waking from our (shared) nap at 2:00 pm, i looked outside to see the wintry goodness piling up around our house (as much as 3 or 4 inches can pile).

the good news? it snowed!

the bad news? it snowed!

i love snowy winter days as much as the next gal, but after four years of living in ithaca, new york i've pretty much had my fill. now i usually see snow as a pain in the butt, something else to slow down d.c. traffic and make it harder for me to get to work / stores / OUT. i'm hoping that emmy will change all that - it's definitely cool to see things that you take for granted through the eyes of your child. i think emmy enjoyed our little jaunt out in the neighborhood today. thank goodness i finally bought snow boots for her just two days ago! (thank you, target clearance aisle! and if you need boots for your little one, they're just $4.98 - what a steal!)

wait, who am i kidding? she can't walk yet - but at least her feet were warm and stylin'!

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you tube, me tube



just uploaded my first video tonight - sadly, the quality stinks since it's just from our little digital camera (not the *real* video camera... which, of course, we never remember to use). anyhoo, here's emmy from a few weeks ago: she's learning to share with her pal "melmo".

oh yeah, and we've mastered the ring toy too! (well, not always in the right order - she's more artsy that way.) em's showing a lot more interest in puzzles as well, and we just added several more sandra boynton books to the collection. i love that lady - she must be rolling in dough for writing short rhymes that are so freakin' simple, yet so amazingly catchy. i actually don't mind reading each of her books about 52 times a day. gotta love kids who like books!

today's big step: i went to a preschool open house!
don't worry, we're probably going to wait and enroll emmy in the fall of 2008, but places around here can have looong waiting lists so i figured i'd start my homework early. and anyway, why rush childhood, right? once she becomes a "student", she'll be there until she's (probably) in her 20's. we've got plenty of time to play and learn together before that happens!

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like static cling


this is my daily view of the em-ster. she's gotten a little... clingy lately. she's a big fan of mine; i hear "mama-mama-MAAAMAAAA!" many times each day, especially when strangers (or her dad) is nearby. i reassure them (him) that this is just a phase and that she'll probably want nothing to do with me in a few months. until then, it's the emmy & mommy show, playing 24-7 at a playgroup near you.

and in other news...


welcome two new additions to our socktacular sock family! first up is oscar the socktopus, a friendly eight-legged sea creature who enjoys fine dining and long walks on the beach. his snazzy red bow tie shows that he's always ready for a night out on the town, although he's slightly incredulous that you'd pick him to go on your date. this insecurity comes from years of being picked last in gym class, even though he's quite an athletic fellow with good ball handling skills. next to him is nake the snake, our happy argyle'd reptile extraordinaire. nake was born without eyes sadly, but has been fortunate enough to be blessed with an extra sensitive tongue. he spends most of his time hanging out at the local playground, hogging the top of the slide in hopes of surprising too-eager young tots.

so what does emmy think of all this? apparently she only wants her "roh-ra" (lola)! she is most definitely NOT a fan of oscar (is he really that scary looking?) so he's been gifted to the hubby. on the plus side, she does seem to enjoy playing with her "nake" and frequently drags him around the playroom. em's friends, however, seem to be more welcoming of our growing menagerie - playmate amanda enjoyed gnawing on oscar's tentacles (who wouldn't like a little calamari, really?) while andrew carried nake all around the house. so what's next? i'm thinking of doing another monkey to improve my sewing skills; i have a great pair of striped socks that look just like a "jojo" to me! (and no, that's NOT in honor of that strange little clown girl from "jojo's circus" - seriously, her yoga show kinda creeps me out.) and yes, i DO realize that i can use more than just socks for my sewing projects (thanks, honey!); i just haven't found the time to get to the fabric store, especially since target has so many cute socks on clearance.

got any sewing ideas or requests? just let me know! maybe i'll even make you a little something too!

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snippets of our day


"mooooo", she said. i'm a cow. duh!

recent cool things:
  • we had a great, great day: a puppet show and playtime with friends - mommy really needed the chance to get out of the house
  • emmy ate like a champ - from apple pancakes and bananas to ravioli and spinach and meatloaf and broccoli and cauliflower and even a clementine, PLUS snacks ("nacks!")
  • and even better: em seems to like the new variety of soy milk we bought - could this be the solution to our evil milk problem? (on a related note, i tried calling our peds today to ask what they suggested. uh, yeah, waste of time. all i got back was a voice mail telling us to try anything that's "lacto-free." um, did you mean lactose-free, perhaps? and thanks, like i couldn't figure that out on my own. sheesh.)
  • i *heart* the signing time dvds. i totally recommend them to anyone trying to teach their child sign language. we've seen volumes 1-9 courtesy of our local library system, but i may just have to breakdown and get the whole set. it's signing time with alex and leah... that song runs through my head a million times a day! and yes, the picture above is emmy signing her version of "cow." i think she probably spends a good 50% of her day signing "more - eat - cheerios - more - eat!" to us now, with the occasional "cheese" thrown in for variety. at least the kid knows what she wants!
  • emmy's starting to pretend play now and it's one of the coolest things i've ever seen! it started with her putting stuffed animals under blankets and saying "night night". then she started feeding them with a doll milk bottle. and just the other day we spent at least 30 minutes giving her tiger a check-up - she's totally fallen in love with her tiny medical bag and likes to hear mommy make the buh-bum sound when she uses her stethoscope. just a warning though: that girl is vicious with the fake syringe. her poor tiger must have been vaccinated for everything... in the eye. ouch!
and that's all for tonight, folks! g'night!

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new to the zoo


now that i've finished uploading a bunch of december pics, it's time to revisit emmy's first trip to the national zoo! we had been meaning to go for months now but we'd been a little skeptical as to whether it was worth the trek yet; juggling work/school/food/nap schedules can make any trip harder to plan, especially when you wonder how much your infant will actually see before catching some zzzzz's in your stroller. anyhoo, the recent mild temperatures finally cajoled us to head to the zoo and it was totally worth it - i recommend a quick stop here for all moms and dads, whether you're a local or just passing through.

[yes, if you're paying attention, you'd know that we live in reston, va. that's only about 20 miles from washington, d.c. and its cool touristy, sciencey, smithsonian-y stuff. sadly, do we ever bother to take advantage of it? since blair does the commute daily for school (and we both used to do it for work), it tends to become more of a chore than a treat. we need to work on that as emmy grows up; there's too much interesting stuff for her to enjoy... you know, before we finally move outta this area! sorry, i digress - point is, us suburbanites ought to stop taking this area for granted and see what it has to offer. you know, more than just those seedy clubs i've seen during all those bachelorette pah-tay nights out. heeheehee!]


anyway, blair and i had been eager to make it to the zoo ever since they opened the new asia trail; it's the wonderfully designed / renovated home to sloth bears, fishing cats, red pandas, a giant salamander, clouded leopards, small-clawed otters and, of course, three giant pandas. we started our trip with a lucky find: papa panda tian tian was comically scratching his tush against some trees, much to the great amusement of our fellow zoo goers. next door, goofy baby tai shan lumbered after mei xian, frequently rolling down a little hill to catch up to her and annoy the heck out of his poor (yet patient) mom. emmy was having a hard time viewing much from her stroller so i decided to carry her through the zoo instead - she seemed to perk up as soon as she could see over the crowds better (and my arms got quite the work-out). she was definitely interested to watch the older sloth bear pace across his rock while the cub got stuck in a tree ("bear! bear!"), and even seemed impressed to see the elephants in their home ("big!"). nevertheless, the best part of this trip were the two indoor facilities that we toured. not only did we warm up a bit, emmy could actually stand up against the glass display windows and see animals at her level. she was a hit in the ape house, where several apes and orangutans swung/walked over to sit/eat directly in front of her ("oooo ooo ooooh!"), and she ADORED the small mammal house and all of its petite occupants. the meerkat clan seemed to amuse her the most, so we'll definitely have to make a return trip in the spring when she can enjoy it more. we'll also have to see more of the zoo - we only made it through about half of the exhibits and i totally missed seeing the prairie dog enclosure - you can practically pet them!

of course, i'm pretty fortunate in the animal department - i happen to live with two of the cutest critters around:


don't be jealous - they really are that cute in person too.

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milk rant

this was one heckuva long week. with multiple cases of the stomach flu tossing us (and our cookies) around the house, emmy and i stayed in quarantine mostly. i was exhausted but hated missing our weekly playgroups - you never realize how long a week can be until you're stuck inside with a previously sick yet now super-hyper toddler. thankfully, we're all better now. so much better, in fact, that i decided to ease back into our normal eating habits... milk and all.

and that's where i think i went wrong. i can't figure out if emmy has a milk intolerance that's finally developed into a problem or is just suffering from a temporary lactose intolerance due to the most recent stomach bug. (did you know that stomach viruses can have lasting uh, diaper-related effects for one to SIX weeks?!) i know, i know, someone out there is thinking, "duh, you're asian - of course she's lactose intolerant you mean, milk-pouring mommy!" but it turns out that most kids don't develop that until the age of 3 or so, so i was hoping that we'd be able to give this whole milk thing a try. aside from the calcium and vitamins, we need those fatty calories! our pediatrician wants us to fatten up the little munchkin since she's already plateau'ed weight-wise (who was only in the 45th percentile at the 1 year check-up, versus her previous 75th-80th standing). ANYWAY, em drank milk today like there's no tomorrow... and i'll probably be hating MY tomorrow when i realize how little sleep i'll likely have had. so far she's been up all evening with gassiness and other discomfort, and i'm kicking myself for being brave / stupid enough to give milk another try (there were small warnings before too - just took a while to connect them). growing up as the only kid in my class that didn't drink milk was a pain - seriously, did the school system have to charge so much extra for that frickin' box of too-sweet fruit punch? blair tells me that our local fairfax county school system actually offers soy milk as an alternative now, but it's always frustrating to be different in such a small but annoying way. of course, it's nothing compared to some of the bad (read: peanut) allergies out there now but we're keeping our fingers crossed on those.

and yes, this IS a long rambling post, but i'm also kicking myself for stopping nursing a couple weeks ago. i figured that 13.5 months was probably enough - heck, i'd exceeded my original goal of one year! - and that em was getting all that she needed from her sippy cup and plate. *sigh* we had already transitioned down to just one nursing a day so i realize that she's not missing a lot, but in hindsight i wish i'd continued a bit longer... then i could at least tell myself that i was helping her through this milk thing a little more. instead, i'm sitting here googling which soy milks are "full/whole" fat and appropriately enriched for someone under the age of 2. oh, and trying to figure out where we can sneak extra calories into em's diet.

it's so funny how much there is to parenting these days. i have to remind myself that if we all somehow made it this far (without car seats while our parents smoked up front, for instance - eek!), that blair and i will do okay too. and on that note, let me send a quick shout out to all the wonderful blogs now listed on the right. many of them are written by some awesome mamas out there and i'm very grateful for their anecdotes, humor, insight and support. thanks, fellow mamas and friends - you keep me sane (and staying up waaaay past my bedtime)!

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leave a comment, i won't bite


just noticed that it's apparently internet de-lurking week, so happy de-lurking to you all! honestly though, if you drop by from time to time to see what the lee family is up to, leave me a comment and say howdy do - i'd love to find out who's passing by.

and yes, we're all still alive. whew!

the dirty side of parenthood

warning: this post is dirrrty. and i don't mean in the christina aguilera way.

i'm a pretty clean person. blair would probably say i have ocd when it comes to throwing things away; the sunday newspaper is lucky to have survived past noon each week, and god help the poor piles of paper/mail/stuff on our dining room table. (i recently realized that i'm married to PileMaker Pro - that's right, the human paper and oddities collector/stacker - but i digress...) before we got a dog, i couldn't even imagine what it would be like to clean up poop from our lawn, half-digested kibble from our bedroom floor at 3am, and other unmentionable liquids from our home (she's licking where?!). but once we got taylor ("taytay" to emmy), it was amazing how easily we could clean up all of her trespasses and accidents. even when she ripped open a 20-pound bag of rice all over our dining room. twice. and tried to eat batteries. and successfully opened and ate from two bottles of vitamins. (childproof, my tush!)

anyway, i think parenthood is very similar and yesterday was my (first) big test. sure, emmy's peed on us - what kid hasn't? and yes, i've caught her throwing up in my hands before. but yesterday was special. she was dealing with a beastly stomach flu and i was starting to come down with the symptoms myself. as soon as she told me she'd gone "puuu puu", i went to change her diaper. it was the most bizarre shade of beige i'd ever seen, thick and wet and practically overflowing her poor kirkland's diaper (yeah, we're economical!). then she started to moan and cry - dumb mommy, you should have known. you should have closed the diaper. you should have hidden behind the coffee table. you should have run. but alas, dumb mommy was literally showered by the uncontrollable fire hose of her poor baby's horrible flu-inspired poo. oh yes, i was sprayed from shirt to pants to socks. and somehow, i managed to remain composed as i finished changing her (not a drop on em, thankfully!), carefully got us both upstairs, changed, and gingerly carried the ruined clothes downstairs to the laundry room, all while other people were in the house. shortly thereafter, the same stomach flu reared it's ugly head in me. *sigh* amazingly, emmy was conveniently napping while i embraced my porcelain friend. your timing is so good, little one - i totally owe you a mango smoothie when all this is over.

part of me would love to keep us both at home for the duration of the winter months. when i called my pediatrician help line yesterday morning, they were swamped with similar calls. gotta love winter vomiting disease, rotavirus, norovirus and all of their evil friends! i soooo look forward to the day when emmy goes somewhere (playgroup, store, anywhere!) and chooses NOT to put everything in her mouth. until then, i'm keeping my fingers crossed that we survive the winter. (and i'll be gripping my purell hand sanitizer and a box of wipes in the other hand.)

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blueberry all over

before i forget, guess what we learned this weekend? blueberry-stained vomit washes out of sheets, crib bumpers, pajamas and stuffed toys quite easily - even with normal detergent! hurray for the power of tide! and boo to the evil blueberry smoothie (or stomach virus?) that made saturday a stay-at-home kinda day.

next up: does emmy have a milk intolerance developing? hmmm...

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spider 101


thanks for sharing, nina! blair and i had to try our hardest from laughing too loud and waking emmy. i soooo want to be a crack spider now (instead of cleaning house and getting work-work done... maybe i should hire one of the nasty wolf spiders that snuck into our basement twice before - those beasties were as big as the palm of my hand! eeeewwww!)

anyway, i'm in the process of uploading pics from december - can't wait to share pics from our first outing to the national zoo two weeks ago. check back after i get a full night's sleep!

back to routine

blair went back to school today; he begins his second semester of medical school with 30 credits of classes and seminars looming on the horizon. while blair toils away with biochemistry, physiology and the like, emmy and i will be working hard at playing, reading and naptime. i sure do hope we all do well!

it's tough getting back into the swing of things after such a long, lovely break. i had to crack open the planner last night to see what's on our schedule this week. we've got 2 playgroups and 1 toddler "support" group meeting, i think. i'm glad that we've decided to take a break from any classes - there's enough to do as it is! and i have resolved to get to bed earlier so that i can be more productive during the day, especially when emmy naps. that means no more mommy naps! (okay, so i'm being very optimistic... but wouldn't it be so much better for me to get my blogging, emailing and maybe even work-work done during the day so that i can get to bed at a decent hour?)

anyway, i have to admit that i really like the return of our mommy-and-emmy time each day. as great as it was to have blair at home for 2 weeks, it's nice to fall back into the ol' swing of things: seeing playgroup friends, running errands, and playing endlessly with the little one. and i'm sure that he's somewhat relieved to be back in his world of academia too! but we'll miss you, dear daddy, so get home for dinner quick! i think our little chef is cooking something special just for you! and this one's totally yours - i changed the first one earlier today. stinky!

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new year's day, the korean way


celebrating the new year with blair's maternal family and the annual sebae ceremony (and the eating of much good food!)




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