Monday, October 5, 2015

best hot pot ever with little sheep hot pot soup base!

When we originally made the plan, I thought early October might be too warm to have hot pot, but thanks to Hurricane Joaquin, it turned out to be perfect weather. There is nothing better than simmering hot soup on a cold, dreary, dark, rainy, and windy day.
hot pot
I usually make my own soup base with pork bones, but this time we used a packaged soup base and it. was. delicious. If you are a hot pot lover, you should really try it. The flavor was excellent, a little bit herbal without being medicinal. It's hard to describe, but everyone (my parents came over) liked it. Thanks to Luke's uncle for introducing us to this wonderful product :) When we left California, he gave us two packs....the house original and the "mala" spicy. We used the house original this weekend and I was feeling so down about it, haha. Fortunately, Amazon came to my rescue so pretty soon my pantry will be stocked with it again.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

the children, fall 2015

It’s time for an update on the children and our current family life.


This is Anna’s fourth week at school and she is doing great. I can see her having lots of fun because every day when I pick her up, she’s always all smiles, with stories to tell.
- “Today we went to the library and guess what?! I got two books this time! I got a princess book and a Pokemon book. Will is going to like the Pokemon book.”
- “Mama, today we had a drill and all the kids AND two teachers were all in the bathroom together.”
- She tells me that she follows directions and does her work all on her own, while the other kids “cut all over the place.”
- She tells me that she never sits in the time-out chair.
- When I asked her, “ Do you think your teacher will tell Mama good stuff about you when I meet with her?” She exclaimed, “YES!”

So all in all, she’s doing absolutely great at school.

Right now, Anna goes to before-care. We got a spot around the middle of August and signed her up immediately. Her kindergarten class doesn’t start until 9:20a, so when I drop her off at school at 8a, she goes to before-care. At first, she cried at drop-off and I thought, OMG, it’s happening all over again, but she's all good now :) Still, I know before-care isn’t her favorite place and I can see why. The teachers aren’t as warm and there are bigger kids all around. But right now, this is our best/only option. Luckily, it’s only an hour before she lines up and go to her kindergarten class, which she adores.

On Saturdays, Anna has ballet and piano. Our Saturday mornings are completely booked because of her activities. I am still debating on whether or not to keep ballet. Anna has lots of fun and all, but I can’t help and think, what’s the point? It just doesn’t seem like a life-long skill to me…. But for now, Anna likes it so we will just keep chugging along.

I am Anna’s #1. She wants to live with me forever and she said so herself. Haha, we will see what she says in a couple of years.


Will used to be my golden boy, but now he can be defiant, whiny and a pain in the butt. Ok, so really I don’t think he’s THAT bad, but things have definitely changed. I get so mad and impatient with him when I have to repeat myself, especially when I am trying to get stuff done. And his whines, the are OUT OF THIS WORLD. Anna never whined…..just cried uncontrollably….and I can't believe I am saying this, but that was actually a lot better.

I know, however, that this is just a stage and it will pass :)

Will is doing well at school. He made great friends this summer, and I had hoped that they would all be in the same class this fall, but actually, none of them are in the same class! So he’s starting from scratch. I feel out of touch with Will’s school world because Luke handles Will’s drop-offs and pick-ups. Last Friday was “A” Week show and tell and I had a #momfail moment when I completely forgot about it. Poor guy had to settle for an acorn from his classroom “A” box.

Two weeks ago we went to the “Parent Tea” at his school and learned about the curriculum. It seems so easy -- learning the alphabets, their sounds, numbers. Will knows all that and a lot more. I suspect, academically, school is easy for Will, but that's not a complaint because there is always more to learn in life. Like, how to stop whining and listen to your parents.


Ninety percent of the time, Anna and Will get along fabulously. They play together really well and help each other out. The other 10%, however, involves Anna throwing a book at Will that left a bruise on his face, just in time for picture day. So yes, it’s safe to say they have that normal endearing sibling bond.

They are very competitive…over small matters.
“I want to go potty first!”
“Anna, I just gave Mama 10 hugs and 10 kisses.”
“I gave her 11.”
“I want to get the maaaaaaaail.”

If one sees the other doing something, all of a sudden, that something becomes the cause of a huge battle.


Even though it doesn't always feel like it, we are at a pretty sweet parenting stage right now. Kids are still cute and want to hang around us and say fun things, but not old enough to have their own personal lives yet. We have a set routine and life overall is good.

And now that they are older, it's easy to just drop the kids off at my parents' house for a couple of hours and we can go off on our own. As of this month, we have been married for 8 years :) Over the weekend, we finally went on our anniversary lunch date.
Ramen at Ki No Spoon in Rockville.

I am on a quest to find the best ramen in the area!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, September 21, 2015

One day a year, I love my company.

And yesterday was that day :) Kings Dominion...entirely freeeeee!!
We only stayed for 3 hours, but it felt like we did all the rides that we wanted anyway. Both kids had a great time at Planet Snoopy. I, on the other hand, am definitely becoming more and more indifferent about theme parks. I mean, I love watching the kids laugh and have fun, but I am happy to just watch them from the sidelines. I got on a grand total of 2 rides yesterday and that was plenty enough for me.
The highlight of the trip was winning those Pikachu stuffies. For the first game, it was Anna, Will, and hubs competing so it was a sure win. The second game, we competed against someone else and luckily we (Luke, but Will "helped") won! The kids have been watching Pokemon cartoons lately and they were thrilled with their prizes. In fact, Anna was so happy she said, "I hope this isn't a dream!" Haha, kids are funny.

The only thing I cared about was getting my family picture in front of the fountains. See my collection: 2012, 2013, and 2014.
Until next September!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

My LA Favorites

It's funny because most of the time, I don't have enough content to keep this old blog of mine going, but when I do have things to post (so many things to say about LA), I can't muster up the energy to recap the vacation day by day. So...I am taking the easy way out. Here is my last post on LA to cover all the nuts and bolts of our trip...enjoy!

Favorite #1: Haha, I think the Hollywood Blvd is about as touristy as you can get in LA. The kids were completely bored by it, but I sure had a great time walking up and down the Walk of Fame and browsing cheesy souvenir shops. So glad that Luke's relatives took us there even though it wasn't on my list of things to see.
^^Me and the kids posing with George Cloony's hand and foot prints.^^
^^Spider-Man, Will, Uncle Vincent^^

Favorite #2: Santa Monica Pier is a local landmark and a must-visit. The kids had just as much fun here than they had at Disneyland. We all went on the giant Ferris wheel and the kids went on all the kiddie rides, including driving their very first bumper cars! We finished it off with hot funnel cake with powdered sugar on top. The kids were in heaven.
Favorite #3: The Little Tokyo in LA was a fun place to browse and shop after a big bowl of ramen. The kids spent most of their vacation money here. They both got a sword and a teeny tiny plush toy (lion for Anna, whale for Will). Unfortunately, the swords are already broken and Will lost his whale :(
Favorite #4: Ranch 99!! More specifically, its hot Taiwanese breakfast. I especially loved the congee (皮蛋瘦肉粥) and rice roll (飯糰). So good and cheap! Wish we had something like this close to home.
Favorite #5: Speaking of Ranch 99 day we ordered a bunch of food to go and had a picnic at the Griffith Observatory. We ate at the top of LA with the Hollywood sign (can you see it?) as our view.
^^We walked a little trail to get a better view of downtown LA.^^

Favorite #6: Need I say more?
Favorite #7: This 21 year old car (Luke remembers when his uncle first bought it!) that took us everywhere.
^^The kids called it "fluffy car" because it was so comfortable.

Favorite #8: No trip to LA would be complete without dipping our toes in the ocean. We visited so many beaches during our week-long stay! A word to the wise: California sun is strong...a beach tent is a must!
^^This was actually under our shady tent.^^

Favorite #9: This. Right across the street from Luke's uncle's place.
Favorite #9: Disneyland, which I already wrote a whole post on it.
Favorite #10: Honestly, everything about LA is a favorite :) From Luke's cousin teaching the kids how to swim (he works as a swim instructor and is great with kids) to meeting up with my own aunts and uncles for a great authentic Taiwanese meal in Rowland Heights. But but but, if I had to pick one most would be this guy right here:
He (and his family) made our vacation they way vacations are supposed to be -- relaxing, fun, adventurous, full of good food and good company.

Other LA Posts: Back from LA! and Disneyland Report

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

wednesday morning catch-ups.

/1/ Anna at her Saturday morning ballet class....she loves it!!

On another note, originally, Anna was supposed to have 3 extracurricular activities: Chinese School, ballet, and piano. I nixed Chinese School because the time of it (2-4p) was just awful. We would have to schedule our whole Sunday around it. Ballet is 9-10a on Saturday morning so it's early enough that we can still do fun family stuff if we want to afterwards. As for piano, I considered a weekday afternoon (after school), but now that I see how hectic the evenings are, I am moving it to the weekend as well. So two weekend activities...that's not overdoing it, right?
/2/ I celebrated a birthday yesterday :) Luke got me my favorite kind of cake -- vanilla sponge cake with fruit toppings -- from an Asian bakery store. He also bought some decorating gel so the kids can decorate the edge of the cake. When asked what to write, Will said, "Happy Birthday Mama. We love you." So Luke wrote that and Anna squeezed some blue and green icing gel around the cake. After a quick dinner at home, we got out the cake, lit the candle, everyone sang to me, and I made a wish.

Anna: What did you wish for Mama?
Me: I wish that our family is always healthy and happy.
Anna: I wish that Mama will always love me.
Me: Awww...Anna, I will love you no matter what, you don't have to wish for that.


The cake tasted as good as it looked. Not too sweet and not too heavy. Can't wait to have the leftovers.

/3/ After cake and clean up, we showered and I hurried off to Back to School night at Anna's school! I had been looking forward to it all day (ok, all week), haha. I enjoyed everything, especially visiting Anna's classroom and seeing her work on the wall (I love that she's the only one who put flourishes in her name). All in all, it was a great night and I wasn't a bit disappointed that my birthday fell on Back to School night. Hehe, I took a picture of the class roster and now I am studying it diligently to learn all the names of the kids in her class. Yes, this is what I do for fun.

/4/ I borrowed a bunch of books from the library the other day. One of the books, Stick and Stone, is a winner with hubs. Kids seem to like it too. Just want to share in case you are looking for suggestions, like I always am!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!