The weather outside is frightful so we are staying curled up at home. Here is what we have been up to as we countdown to Christmas...
12.6.13 : snowman fridge (or door) : This was a super quick project! You may notice that there is a random blue circle above the scarf...Anna put it there. It's snow.
12.7.13 : We went to the mall to look at holiday decorations and to catch a glimpse of Santa, but ended up getting the kids' an early Christmas present instead -- a much needed warm coat for the winter.
12.8.13 : pom pom ornaments : Another easy craft. Just click on the link, print the template, and decorate with pom poms!
Also on that day, we had out first snowfall of the season. Earlier this year when we put Will out in the snow, he didn't want to move an inch. Now? He slips and slides and loves the fluffy white stuff. Oh, we also watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas that night. The 1966 version. And read the book.
12.9.13 : footprint snowman : This was a neat one to do and a great keepsake for me. I stamped Anna and Will's foot twice on two different blue cardstock. I knew that Will was too young to participate so I just did one on my own. I actually finished decorating my snowmen (er...feet?) first while the kids played. Then once I was done, I called Anna over to do hers. I just told her to mimic what I did and she did a great job! I did some cutting for her, but she did everything else on her own.
We hung Anna's up, but I put mine away for now. I am thinking of framing it!
12.10.13 : paper strip Christmas tree : Today, I really wanted Will to be involved so I made it easy for him. I put glue on the back of the strips and just let him glue them however he wanted. I thought his tree was whimsical and fun. Anna's looked more like a proper tree and she insisted on the heart instead of the star.
Also happening today: It's yet another snow day and because the husband is gone on travel, I recruited these two to shovel the snow.
What have you all been up to?
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
The weather outside is frightful so we are staying curled up at home. Here is what we have been up to as we countdown to Christmas...
Thursday, December 5, 2013
To my surprise, we HAVE been doing something Christmas-y every day this December. Ok yeah we are only 5 days in, but that’s 5 activities more than I did last year. The key is definitely planning and doing the prep work before involving the kids. I don't have all 24 days mapped out, but I do plan 2-3 days in advance.
12.1.13 – put up the kids’ tree
12.2.13 : make and send out holiday cards : This was a big project and we were able to finish it on the same day because it was a non-work day for me. Anna and I took turns punching out round circles and gluing them onto the cards. The tree stump was her thumbprint. After dinner, I wrote inside the cards with her telling me what to write and she scribbled her name. Then she helped me with the stamps, the stuffing, and even the licking. We only sent out 9 cards – to the grandparents, aunts and uncles, some of her little friends, and her own father. The next morning, she put the cards in the mailbox herself. These holiday cards were from HER instead of the family. I haven’t gotten my act together to send out family cards yet….and probably never will.
12.3.13 : popsicle stick picture frame ornament : This was a craft that I did mostly by myself. I cut and trimmed the pictures, the kids half-heartily painted the popsicle sticks, I hot-glued the sticks together to make frames (I had planned to do this step myself anyway), glued on the pictures (Anna helped a little here), put on the strings, and hung the ornaments (kids LOVED this part).
We made several ornaments. This one, with the sloppy paint job, was Will's handiwork.
12.4.13 : coffee filter snowflakes : My parents were here for this one so we all contributed to this project. Both kids tried and although the ones they did didn’t turn out looking like snowflakes (especially Will’s, haha), I still love it. I taped every single one of them to the windows in our breakfast nook. Now we get to see “snow inside the house.”
12.5.13 : cotton ball bearded Santa : Anna's is on the left, mine is on the right. I actually like hers better, my Santa's beard looks weird.
Monday, December 2, 2013
December is here...which means that the countdown to Christmas is officially on. This year, we decided to put up two Christmas trees to make the season even brighter. The Charlie Brown-ish one sits in the living room and our old 4 1/2-foot tree from our condo-living days is now the kids' tree to decorate. I must say that it's looking quite festive at our little home sweet home. :)
This is Anna's 2013 ornament she bought with her vacation money from Disney World. See her ornaments from the past: 2010, 2011, and 2012. (ahemwillisstillplayingcatchupahem)
And...here is the kids' tree, in the family room, featuring homemade ornaments that we will be busy making this month. We already made several over the Thanksgiving break.
Popsicle stick snowman.
Popsicle stick Christmas tree.
Finally, the Advent calendar.
I had wanted to make my own, but when I saw this one at the Target dollar bin (it was $3, though), I knew that I couldn't make it any better or cheaper. I originally was going to put a little piece of paper with an activity written on it in each of the pockets, but I later came to my senses. I mean, I know there is going to be a day when I am really tired from work and I don't want to do that bearded Santa craft and just want to veg out and watch A Charlie Brown Christmas instead. So, I am keeping it flexible. I do have activities in mind and I hope we will get a chance to do something Christmas-y each day, but I am not holding myself accountable by putting them in writing. :)
Cheers to a holly jolly December!
Thursday, November 28, 2013
Happy Thanksgiving from our little Pilgrim and Indian! Are you knee deep in turkey and stuffing yet? As it turned out, we are spending this Thursday with just our little family at home. The chicken (we don't do turkey) is in the oven and I already have all the trimmings for the hot pot prepared. I can't wait for our feast tonight. It will be warm and cozy. Then on Saturday, we will head over to hubs' parents house to have a big dinner with family.
Last week, we did two quick Thanksgiving crafts. The kids had lots of fun with this toilet paper roll turkey with coffee filter. Can you guess who made which turkey?
Then we all sat down as a family for this thankful tree. Besides the usual suspects - family, health, our house, money - I am also thankful for this blog of mine. It's been my little project for the last 6 years and I still love writing and documenting our family life here. And part of what keeps me going is you, my readers, and your lovely comments. :) So THANK YOU. Thank you for stopping by. I hope you are all enjoying good food and good company today. Have a happy, happy Thanksgiving!
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Whenever I meet a fellow parent, I am always curious in how they handle/d childcare. It’s such an interesting topic to me and I thought I would share how we have done it since Anna was born.
I took a 24-week maternity leave after I had Anna. I was home with her from 3/14/2010 to 8/30/2010. She was 5.5 months old when I went back to work. Grandma then began watching her full time.
On 11/15/2011, Will was born and I took another 24-week maternity leave. Anna was 20 months old at that time. While on leave, Grandma still came to help every day. We tagged team – she took care of Will, while I focused on Anna. When my leave ended on 5/1/2012, I worried about how Grandma would be able to take care of a 5.5-month old Will and also give Anna, who had just turned 2, the attention she needed. As luck would have it, I ended being on the bench for the next 4 months. It was great.
But on 9/12/2012, I was summoned to work for real. Hubs’ mom began taking care of two kids on her own, while I worked out of home. Will was 10 months old and Anna was two and half.
After I went back to work, I started researching a preschool program for Anna. I found one quickly and signed her up. On 1/2/2013, Anna started attending preschool 3 times a week, 3 hours a day. It gave hubs’ mom a little break and got Anna out of the house.
In February 2013, my project was cut to PT and it offered me the flexibility to be more involved with Anna’s school, as she was having a really hard time adjusting. On 3/29/2013, the project ended and I was back on the bench. I got even more involved with Anna and school. Not only that, it was wonderful to have some time off.
On 5/20/2013, after coming back from Hawaii, I began a new work assignment. Then on 6/13/2013, school let out for the summer and hubs’ mom was back to taking care of both kids full time. I was worried once again about if hubs' mom would be able to keep up with two energizing kids. But once again, luck was on my side. Around that time, I was told that my position has been cut and I would be working 3 days a week.
So beginning on 7/1/2013 until now, I work 3 days on T, W, and Th. On those days, hubs’ mom comes over to watch the kids. On M and F, I am with the kids solo. It's a good balance.
As the kids get older, I am beginning to realize how convenient/easier it would be to have a stay-at-home parent. Now that I work PT, I notice how much I can accomplish in those two days, how good it feels to not have to rush in the morning, and how much I enjoy being home. I can grocery shop, cook more food, be more involved with the kids. But then again, to do it 5 days straight? Maybe not.
I plan to have Will start preschool in January 2015, 3 days a week, 3 hours a day. By then I am not sure how likely hubs’ mom will continue to come to our house every day. We may have to find a very flexible nanny who doesn’t mind working interrupted hours.
And then what happens when they start public school? Before and after-school care? Lots to think about.
How do you handle childcare? I want to know!
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Sunday, November 24, 2013
The temperature dipped to the 30s this weekend so I declared that it was the perfect time to make pho at home. I referred to this recipe, but skipped out on coriander seeds, celery, and daikon because I didn't have them on hand. Other than that, I followed the recipe exactly...even charring the spices over gas burner. Instead of beef slices, I made it easy by substituting with meat/fish balls. For garnishes, we only had scallions and chillies, but I don't think we missed rest.
A review on Pho Bo (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup):
Result: 3.5 out of 4 stars.
Will I make it again: Yes, yes, YES! Although the flavor wasn't as intense as the restaurant, it wasn't difficult to make and the kids slurped it all up. And, the price was right. It was less than $10 to make and there was enough left over for next day. And, we didn't have to leave the house.
Chef's Notes: I used a mesh tea ball to contain all the spices and it worked really well. Next time I will make sure to include all the missing ingredients, too.
filed under food
Monday, November 18, 2013
I really wasn't planning on doing any decorating for Will's birthday celebration with family. After all, it was a small gathering, and I thought anything beyond a few helium balloons would be silly. But, as you can see, I changed my mind. And I am glad I did! Because not only Will noticed my Team Umizoomi touches, but he was really excited about them!!
Team Umizoomi party supplies were nearly non-existent, but luckily, Nick Jr came to my rescue. I pretty much printed all the freebies available on the website -- the character posters, place cards, toppers, and more. The best part...all in all, I only spent $2 for a couple of foam boards at the Dollar Tree and used everything else I already had on hand for the assembly.
For more decorations, we blew up 6 helium balloons (we always have a helium tank at home) in Umizoomi colors. And then Luke and I huffed and puffed and blew up 30 more to scatter around the house, exactly like what I surprised Anna with on her 3rd birthday. You can sort of see them in the last picture.
Food was simple. Spring rolls, Domino's pizza, grapes, Umizoomi ICE CREAM PIZZA (from one of the kids' favorite episodes), and, of course, the birthday cake. As simple as the food was, I had some fun with the signs. The pizza sign read "Super Shapes Pizza", the grapes were "1-2-3 Grapes", the birthday cake was "Mighty Birthday Cake", etc. Ha, I was definitely the only one who got a chuckle out of it, though. Haha.
This Umi-riffic celebration happened on Saturday night. That morning, we had swim lessons and came home for lunch. After lunch and sending the kids to nap, we put up the decorations. When Will came down from his nap, he was soooo excited to see everything. "Geo! Milli! Bot! Balloons! COOKIES!" Totally. Worth. It.
We had 11 people (birthday boy included) and 1 dog in attendance. Anna, having just waking up from her nap, took a while to warm up, but eventually, both kids enjoyed the company of their grandparents, aunt, and cousins. Our house is overflown with new presents, which made me decide that we are having a one-present policy this Christmas.
Showing some sibling love.
And giving out hugs to the grandparents.
So in the end, I am definitely glad that I put in a little bit effort into the party. Not only was it special for the birthday boy, but it was a lot of fun for me to get a crafty! Thank you everyone for coming and showering Will with love and attention! He sends hugs and kisses!
Friday, November 15, 2013
Care to join me as I take a trip down memory lane?
This is Will, just a few minutes old.
And a few hours.
And 14 days later.
This is what he looked like at 1 month.
And at 6 month.
ONE YEAR OLD.
This is him at 18 month.
And this is what he looked like just recently, at Disney World.
And today, TWO YEARS OLD.
Gah, it makes my heart weep to scroll through these photos. Because that’s how fast the years seemed to have flown by – ZOOM.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
How We Got There and Back
For a while we thought about making the 12-hour drive to Orlando, but then we came across a reasonable airfare (plus Will flew free) and the decision was made for us. Of course there were moments during the travel that made hubs and I look at each other and said, “I don’t know how we ever made it to Hawaii” but in hindsight, it really wasn't bad. Sure, there were rowdy moments, lines to stand in, and we were limited to what we could bring, but everything went smoothly in the big picture.
We ended up bringing a big checked-in luggage, 3 backpacks (Luke, Anna, and me), and our tandem stroller. There was a debate on whether or not we should bring two single strollers so the kids could both nap at the parks…..so glad we didn't go that route! Two parents, two kids, two strollers spelled all kinds of inconvenience and trouble.
Being on an airplane entitled the kids to unlimited screen time.
Waiting at the airport didn't seem bad with these two happy kids.
Where We Stayed
As always, we picked to stay at one of Disney’s budget resorts – Pop Century Resort. I think this was our sixth time staying there for hubs and me, second for Anna, first for Will, and many more for all of us in the future. We love it there! The kids enjoyed the pools, had fun roaming the grounds, and we ate at the food court at least once a day. I will say that the food court menu has changed since our last stay, and not for the better. But it’s not a deal breaker for us. We actually went across the bridge to visit the new Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, and for many reasons, we definitely still vastly prefer the good old Pop.
We stayed in a standard room with two double beds.
The pool area was super close to our room. In fact, our room was super close to everything. Completely lucked out on that one. (We did online check-in prior we left and put in our preferences...maybe that helped?)
How We Got Around
Every morning, we waited in line for the bus to take us to the parks.
How We Dealt With Naps
With two kids who still nap regularly at home, we knew that we needed to go back to the resort in the middle of the day. On our first full day there, we went to Magic Kingdom, came back to nap, and went out again. That ate up a lot of time – catching the bus back and forth, plus the napping. Not that we were in any hurry, but I wasn't sure that going back out again (6 pm?) and then coming back to our room 3 hours later was worthwhile. On second day, we went to Animal Kingdom. AK didn't have many things catered to little kids like mine so we were actually done by 3 or so in the afternoon. We went back to the resort, took a long nap, and just chilled at the resort for the rest of the day.
Beginning on the third day, we decided to just let Will nap in the stroller and have Anna skip hers. I don’t think Will napped comfortably in the stroller, but those 45-minute naps he took were enough for us to not have to go back to the resort in the middle of the day. Instead we just found a shady spot in the park for him to sleep while we hung out with Anna. One time we all waited quietly together, but all the other times, I ended up taking Anna around the park while Luke stayed with Will.
When we bought the tandem, we were well aware that it was not conducive to napping, but Will made it work.
Both kids were so sleep deprived during the trip, but it wouldn't be a vacation if we got solid sleeps, right?
What Made It All Easier
New to us this year was MyMagic+, which is a collection of magical tools! Before we left for Disney, we were asked if we wanted to help test out the new program and after an enthusiastic “yes!” from us, we received a MagicBand for each member of the family in the mail.
With the MagicBand (that we wore around our wrists), we could enter our hotel room with just a touch, enter the parks, purchase food, and access FastPass+ attractions with ease. No more key cards! The FastPass+ option was the best part – we were able to select up to 3 attractions that we wanted to do online and have no wait time once we go there. It’s similar to the old FastPass, but with that, you had to physically go to each FastPass stations to get the tickets. Being able to do it online saved time and helped us plan our day. There was also a mobile app (My Disney Experience) that we downloaded to keep our reservations (dining, FastPass+) straight. I used it all the time.
Anna got really good at holding up her MagicBand to the machine and waiting for the Mickey head to turn green.
The mobile app was a little bit buggy and would something quit on its own, but when it worked, it really helped.
Overall, we had a really, really great vacation and definitely itching to go back again. Not 2014, but 2015 is a strong possibility!