Thursday, July 24, 2014

An Overnight Trip to Baltimore: Part 3

_DSC0191
We took our time getting ready the next morning. The kids and hubs slept in - until 8:30! - and we gave them TV/Kindle time before finally leaving our room for breakfast. The hotel offered free breakfast so it worked out very well and the kids had fruit loops for the first time.

We were leaving for home in the afternoon and the only plan for the day was the Maryland Science Center. So after we checked out of the hotel and stored our bags with the front desk, we started walking. We really lucked out with the weather because it wasn't hot at all, but of course, the kids still complained. So when we saw these water jets along the way (FYI, they were near the Visitor Center), we decided to let them play, even though we didn't have any spare clothes with us. We asked them not go get too wet and they actually listened.
_DSC0207
Except for one annoying incident of Anna being scared at the planetarium, the kids enjoyed the museum a lot more this time around. It just happened to be "Bubble Days" so we watched a very entertaining bubble show and the kids got to play with some bubbles. They asked to go into the bubble pool, but their father vetoed the idea so all they got was a bucket. Still had fun, though :)
_DSC0218
Back in April, when we first visited, they reluctantly walked through the dinosaur exhibit. Not so this time.
marylandscience1
We also gave each of them 51 cents to make a souvenir coin. They were pretty excited about that, haha. Kids get a kick out of the simplest things.
_DSC0252
Kids Room - their most favorite place.
_DSC0270
Look at that concentration on their faces!
_DSC0280
I wish we could do trips like this every weekend, but we would go broke and the kids would probably stop appreciating them. We were home by Saturday afternoon and still had Sunday free to run errands. And by errands, I meant that the hubs and I went on a movie date while the kids stayed with their grandparents.
_DSC0201
So that was our Baltimore trip! It was too short, but good times.

See Part 1 and Part 2.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

An Overnight Trip to Baltimore: Part 2

The dragon paddle boat ride was my favorite part of our Baltimore trip. Just look at the view we had from the water:
_DSC0145
Prior to dinner, we made a deal with the kids that if they behaved well, we would go on a boat ride afterwards. As I said, dinner went reasonably well so the entire family got to experience something new for the first time. I was psyched, the kids were psyched, Luke was meh about it but went for it anyway :)

Because the weight had to be balanced, Anna sat in the front with hubs and Will was in the back with me. And because only the people in the front could paddle, that meant the hubs did all the paddling, haha :) He got quite a workout. It was fun for the rest of us though. The kids couldn't stop beaming from ear to ear. They really liked it!
_DSC0143
It was honestly a good family fun so I recommend this activity wholeheartedly, especially if you have little kids. I think the evening hours is the best time to go, when the sun is down for the day. Much cooler, much more enjoyable. As for the cost, it was $18 to rent the paddle boat for 30 minutes. I think we were out on the water for about 20 minutes...Luke was exhausted!
_DSC0150
Now that the kids are older, I am not such a stickler about bedtime anymore, especially when we are away from home. So after the boat ride, we strolled around the Inner Harbor a bit and even walked the longer route (via a bridge) back to our hotel.
_DSC0166
After we got back to the hotel, we showered and climbed into bed. I think it took all of us no longer than 10 minutes to fall asleep? It had been a long day. Oh yes, have I mentioned that our room was teeny tiny and it only had one bed? But even though it was a tight squeeze, we all slept soundly through the night.
_DSC0190
To be continued.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, July 21, 2014

An Overnight Trip to Baltimore: Part 1

This weekend we went on an overnight trip to Baltimore!
_DSC0130
Last Friday, Luke and I took off work early, picked up the kids at daycare, and hit the road for Baltimore. We had planned this trip just a week prior because 1) we had a free Marriott hotel stay that needed to be used up, and 2) the tickets we had to the Maryland Science Center was expiring as well. So I figured, why not? It turned out to be a fun little trip. I am going to break it up into 3 posts to tell you all about it :)

Although we left the house at 1:30, hoping to beat traffic, there were a few accidents/road work along the way and we didn’t get to our hotel till nearly 3:15. The ride was longer than I expected, but Will was asleep most of the way so it turned out alright. Once we got to the hotel, we were told that our room was not ready yet. So we spent the next half hour at the lounging area and the room was ready by 4, the actual check-in time. We settled in, got our stuff ready, and went to our first planned stop –  Port Discovery Children’s Museum!

Part of the reason why we picked this particular weekend to go to Baltimore was also because of the $2 Family Fun Night at Port Discovery. Usually the ticket is $15 per person, but once a month on a Friday night, it is discounted to just $2. However, a big HOWEVER, this just meant that the place was PACKED with people. So here is a tip for the locals – I highly DO NOT recommend Family Fun Night….unless you set your expectations low and know that you will just see a few exhibits and come back next time (on another Family Fun Night).

This was not our case, I don't see us coming back here in the foreseeable future, but we made the best out of it.

For my water-loving kiddos, we spent most of the time at Wonders of Water.

The bubble hoop provided great picture opportunities.
portdicovery
And they spent so much time here, just connecting pipes and getting wet.
_DSC0118
Luckily our hotel was close because we ended up having to go back to our room to change the kids into dry clothes. Then we went back to the museum again to see a few more exhibits, but it wasn’t long before we were all hungry and left the place for good.

We ended up eating at The Cheesecake Factory, right in the heart of Inner Harbor. For appetizer, we ordered Avocado Eggrolls, which I pretty much inhaled the whole thing myself. So yummy! Then we had several pasta dishes to share - Farfalle with Chicken and Roasted Garlic, Cajun Jambalaya Pasta, and a "naked" pasta off the kids' menu. All equally delicious! We were stuffed by the end, but of course, Luke couldn't go to The Cheesecake Factory without eating an actual cheesecake so we did.
_DSC0137
Overall, the dinner was very good. The kids behaved and ate decently. So we kept the promise we had made with them and we were off on a boat ride!
_DSC0140
To be continued.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, July 14, 2014

The End of Will's Potty Training Saga

(I am following the same format as last time – this is a post about potty training, but with pictures from our weekend inserted.)

Potty training Will has got to be one of the easiest things I have done as a parent. The entire process was easy, calm, and…have I mentioned easy?

I already recapped Days 1-3 here. On Day 4, we sent him to daycare for the first time in underwear with extra pairs in his backpack. I asked our daycare lady to put him on the potty every 30-45 minutes, but he ended up having two accidents that day. It was pretty discouraging since he had none on Day 3! On Day 5, he had one accident at home (while waiting for Anna to get off the potty) and one at daycare. On Day 6, he woke up dry from his sleep and had no accident all day! On Day 7, he had one accident at daycare. And started on Day 8, he has been accident free!

Although we taught Will how to use the potty by putting him on it every x minutes, he has actually learned to TELL US when he needs to go. This is why I can confidently claim that he’s 99.99% trained! Yes we do still make him go before we leave the house or remind him if it’s been a really long time, but for the most part, he’s independent about the timing. So great!

Now about our weekend. On Day 9, we took a long trip to Grandma's house. Will did just fine and we left with bags of vegetables and herbs from Grandma's garden. On the way home, we stopped for lunch and then to the library to turn in our completed Summer Reading Program. It felt good to have that checked off on the Summer Fun List!
_DSC0047
After we got home and napped, we set the kids up for some water play in our screen-in porch. Below is an example of a poor man's version of swimming pool. The kids sure still had fun, though. This was also when I realized that Will knows to tell us when he needs to go because he stopped TWICE during water play to say that he needed to pee. From that point on, I stopped taking him to the potty every x minutes.
_DSC0051
On Sunday, Day 10, my parents and I took the kids to Burke Lake Park...
_DSC0071
and I got this great shot of the kids. I love candid shots but it's also nice to have a picture of them both smiling and looking at the camera. I still don't know what came over them. Usually when I ask for a picture, I get two kids either running in opposite directions or acting really goofy.
_DSC0079
Being out and about this weekend -- using public potties and having no accidents -- made me really comfortable in taking Will out in his underwear. It's a good thing because we are going on an overnight trip in a few days!

I can't believe that it was only a weekend ago that we were in the thick of potty training and now we are all done. We've all heard that potty training boys are harder and I was so worried about it. Well, I am here to say that it was PAINLESS. Also, just because you have a boy, it doesn't mean that you have to delay potty training (which admittedly, I did).

But anyway, I am so proud of my boy. He was so quick in learning everything. Congratulations Will! You did it! What an accomplishment :)

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Will's Potty Training Weekend

Will is hardly potty-trained, but I thought I would write a status update and also to recap the long weekend at the same time.

I am pushing hard to get Will to use the potty because I want him to go to school with Anna starting this September and being potty-trained is a requirement even in the youngest class. He is almost 2 years and 8 months old, which I think is plenty big for a child to get the concept of using the potty. So over the 3 day weekend, we went for it.

In my opinion, there are two methods to do potty training One, wait for him to tell me when he needs to pee or two, take him to the potty every so often (like, every 30 to 45 minutes). I wanted to go for the first method because I THINK it is more effective (you know, to allow him to make mistakes and learn from them), but I knew I couldn't handle the stress of waiting for accidents to happen. So I took the second approach, which was what I did with Anna....and she did learn...eventually.

So Friday morning (Day 1), I put Will in a Pull-Up and took him to the potty every 30 minutes. He pee'd each time. Of course he was reluctant, but M&Ms and Kindle time did the trick. His Pull-Up was dry for at least 2 hours, until he pee'd in it while watching Blue's Clues and had no reaction whatsoever. So then I made a decision to switch him to undies from then on.

The rest of the morning was spent playing outside - with chalk, bubbles, outdoor toys - while asking him constantly if he needed to use the potty but still taking him every 30 to 40 minutes. The weather was so un-July like, it even warranted a light jacket!
IMG_9014
In the evening my parents came over and at night, we had our own little firework display. He only had one accident the whole day. Not bad for Day 1 at all! He also pooped in the potty!

On Saturday (Day 2) we decided to take a very short excursion. We went to a little stream minutes away from our home. Hubs had discovered it while running one day and it was a perfect spot for our little kids. For local folks, the stream is located inside Wildwood Park in Vienna and you can step into the water in various spots throughout the park. The moving water made the stream very clean and I had no reservations in letting the kids frolic in it.
IMG_9038
We saw many little creatures, which included a bunch of small fish and dragonflies. In the picture above, hubs caught a tiny fish and the kids were taking turns touching it. I was happy see my kids enjoying nature, although they said they prefer TV over being outside.
wildwood park
We spent about 45 minutes here and unfortunately, Will had a pee accident.

After we got home and Will took a potty break, we let the kids play outside with the sprinkler.
IMG_9116
Day 2 ended with two more accidents, but again he pooped in the potty which made me proud :)

Then came Sunday (Day 3). We decided to chance it and took them to Our Special Harbor Spray Park about 25 minutes away. We had gone at the end of last summer and loved it. Don't let the smiles fool you because I don't think the kids *really* had fun this time. There were fun moments, but for the most part it was frustrating because they kept on fighting over the watering can toy that we took along with us. I mean, they had this wonderful facility at their disposal and all they wanted was filling up that stupid watering can and pouring the water out. Whatever, kids.
IMG_9124
But regardless, more importantly, Will did not have any accidents and he pee'd in the public restroom for the first time! Yes I know it is hard to keep track whether or not he pee'd on himself in a spray park, but he stayed dry on the way down, used the potty twice while there, and stayed dry again on the way home. So I am pretty sure it was a success.
IMG_9123
On the 3rd day, with me taking him to the potty every 40-50 minutes, he did not have any accidents.

I don't know how some kids are able to be trained in 3 days because, here we are on Day 6, Will is definitely still learning. Right now he's in underwear at all time during waking hours, but in diapers when sleeping. We still have to take him to the potty rather than him proactively going on his own. The silver lining is that at least accidents are few and far in between so maybe he's at least holding the pee until we take him to potty? In fact, he actually woke up dry this morning after 11 hours of sleep! Either way, I think with still almost 2 months until September, he should make the school deadline with time to spare. Update again next time!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Apparently, we potty train kids on America's birthday.

IMG_2450
Two years ago, we started potty training our firstborn on July Fourth and it looks like we inadvertently carried on that tradition with our second. On this Independence Day, instead of barbecues and flag cakes, we were knee deep in pee and poop. Not literally, thankfully. Will is surprising us all and embracing the potty like a champ. I will write more about it as we get further along.

Although we stayed in all day (well, to be accurate, Anna and hubs were out shopping for a bit), we didn't miss out on ALL the fun traditions of the 4th. This year Luke decided to put on a show for the kids right in our front yard. A few days prior, he went out and bought a bunch of fountains, smoke bombs, sparklers all on his own. The entire day, the kids were so excited and kept asking, "Is it dark yet?" over and over. Unfortunately, when it was finally dark and the first smoke bomb went off, Anna got scared and ran back inside the house (and stayed there). Will was intimidated, but he stuck around and ended up playing with the sparklers! His first time!

I knew I wanted some good pictures, so I busted out my big camera and learned about shutter speed. I know, way overdue. We were not coordinated enough to write anything fancy with the sparklers, but I thought they turned out just fine anyway!
IMG_2421
IMG_2430
How was your long weekend?

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

lately / summer fun list, water play, sunflowers, winky smile

I am late, but I thought I would join the party and post my fun list for Summer 2014.

If you can read my chicken scratch, here it is:
upload
To beat the summer heat, we bought this sprinkler for the kids. And last weekend when we went to visit the grandparents, we tested it out for the first time. Both kids enjoyed it so much and except for when we ate pizza, they were out playing the entire time. Definitely a boredom buster and a wonderful investment! The next day I took them to Mosaic District for more water play, but I have to say that I think my kids have outgrown the baby water jets.
waterplay
When we planted those sunflower seeds over the Easter weekend, we had no idea they were gonna get THIS gigantic. It will be interesting to see just how tall they get. But more importantly, will we ever get any flowers? Oh, and Anna. All of a sudden, she knows exactly how to blow bubbles. Give the girl a bottle of the bubbly stuff and she can entertain herself for a long time.
Our "herb" garden is a hot mess.
And finally a #latergram. I didn't get a chance to post these pictures in my Williamsburg recap posts, but they are too cute not to to share. The kids had some fun trying on statement necklaces at the outlet. That Will smile kills me.
smiles

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

This is how we vacation.

Since coming back, many people have asked what the heck we did in Williamsburg for A WHOLE WEEK. I don’t blame them for being curious. Before I had kids, I would never have considered using my precious PTO on somewhere like Williamsburg. Snooze-ville right? If I had to use my vacation time, it had better be for somewhere far and away! But now with kids in tow, Williamsburg is easily our destination of choice. We pack up, pile into our van, and drive three hours to escape the hustle and bustle of real life...it’s perfection. As I mentioned, this time we stayed at my friend’s timeshare. We treated them to two dinners in exchange of a week’s stay. Sounds perfectly reasonable to me ;) So not only we had a great vacation, it was cheap to boot!

(And just as a side note: we vacationed at the Outer Banks and Myrtle Beach before and while those are probably more popular choices, the long drive just isn’t worth it for us. Yes the beaches are bigger and better, but when the kids are ages 4 and 2.5, a tiny stretch of sand is all they need to make them happy.)
pool
pool2
So what exactly did we do each day? Well, this is our recipe of success. We all wake up sleepily, get dressed, and have breakfast at home. Then we head out for our morning activity, to the pool/beach/river, between 9:30 to 9:45. We come back, get clean, and eat a late lunch (Chinese take-out/leftovers). Then we all nap, usually beginning at around 2, which is much later than their normal nap time at home. Kids wake up after 5 and then we do something in the evening (out to dinner, shopping at the outlet, playground, stay home, pool, etc). Then bath, books, and sleep! So as you can see, we kept it very low key -- just one or two activities a day and we made sure to give the kids (and us!) the opportunity to nap and recharge instead of running around all day.

So this is how we vacation, you?

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Summer Lovin', Had me a Blast

I thought that I would blog more than once while on vacation but that just meant two things. One, we played hard and two, when the kids napped I rested too. Both great things. But now that I am back and mostly recovered, it's time to share the places we went to with a picture overload.

::JAMESTOWN BEACH (ALONG THE COLONIAL PARKWAY)::

This was our first river experience on this trip. Anna jumped right into the river and never looked back, but Will was reluctant. I spent all my time on land with him, but it was a good time nevertheless. We walked along the shore, played in the sand, and threw rocks.
IMG_8789
jamesriver
IMG_8815
IMG_8832
::VIRGINIA BEACH::

While we didn't have any specific plans on this vacation, I did want to make a day trip to VA Beach. We left Williamsburg at 9:10 in the morning and got to VA Beach around 10:30. The ride was somewhat scenic toward the end with water view on both sides (it reminded me a little bit of the drive to Key West) and the kids enjoyed a long tunnel. Once we got to the beach, we immediately laid our towels down and went for a dip in the Atlantic. The waves were strong so the kids stayed mostly on shore, but they had so much fun chasing and running from the waves. Will especially. It was so fun watching the chubby guy pitter-pattering on the sand. I took a dozen of videos, haha.

I think to really see VA Beach with little kids, an overnight stay is necessary. I would've loved to walk the boardwalk and see the sights, but it was the middle of the day and the kids were tired. So it was a short stay for us, but I am definitely glad we made it happen anyway!
IMG_8844
VABeach
IMG_8892
IMG_8927
::YORKTOWN BEACH::

I love Yorktown, especially along the river front. It has several shops, restaurants, but for us, the main attraction is the beach. It's gentle enough for little kids to play safely. Again, Anna had lots of fun floating in the river and Will finally conquered his fear and did too this time!
yorktown
IMG_8972
yorktown2
Taking little kids to the beach is a lot of work, do you agree? But after this vacation I can honestly say that we are getting better at it. Sure it's messy (sand everywhere!) and tiring (lugging children and bags!), but the moments of fun that the kids have is worth it for me :)

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Start of a Great Summer! We are in Williamsburg!

My coworker-turned-friend invited us to stay a week at his timeshare and how can we say no? So until Friday, we are here again in Williamsburg :) Seriously, we are practically locals by now, but we love this slower pace of life (i.e. perfect for kids) and uninterrupted family time (i.e. perfect for us). We had been looking forward to this vacation since January!
IMG_8690

So far besides the pool, we haven't done anything that we couldn't have done at home :) Before we left home, we borrowed a bunch of library books and took them down here with us. Each night, we have been reading, just like we do at home. The kids finally finished their B&N summer reading program yesterday so we ran to the nearest B&N to redeem the free books. Such a fun rewarding program. If you didn't already know about it, I highly recommend it!
IMG_8711
IMG_8720
We also went to Sweet Frog for some fro yo. It was a perfect summer day to eat some cool treats outside. I adore Will's smile face. I want to capture as many of it as I can before he learns to smile for real, haha.
IMG_8730
We are here with my coworker's family, staying at Williamsburg Plantation. He's got two girls, ages 1 and 3. They are in the downstairs unit and we are upstairs, completely separate living quarters. The kids get along fabulously and it's nice to have other adults to talk to. This is our first time vacationing with another family and so far loving it.
IMG_8736
We don't have any day to day plans for this vacation. Just going to chill and roll with the punches :) But since we are here for a whole week, I do want to make a day trip to Virginia Beach. We have never been so it will be a first. I hope we can make it happen.

Cheers to a memorable vacation!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!