Friday, October 17, 2014

Will's First School Picture Ever

School pictures....they are the best! Can't wait to collect them all!
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(Will, taken on 9.30.14, at 2 years and 10 1/2 months old)

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

first "fall foliage" outing of the season

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Earlier this week, my parents and I took the kids for a short trip to Great Falls Park. It was raining so I had second thoughts before we left the house, but I was glad that we threw on our rain coats and went anyway. It turned out the kids really enjoyed the little outing..probably more so BECAUSE of the rain. Their reactions to the falls were anticlimatic, but they skipped and ran enthusiastically everywhere else. Had it not started raining extra hard all of a sudden, we probably would have walked a trail, but on that day we just went to the three overlooks within 5-10 minutes of the visitor center. The first outlook was the best. It had an obscured view of the falls, but I liked it because of the big rocks that we had to scramble over. The kids did just fine even though the rocks were wet and slippery. I used to think that they are still too young (4.5 and almost-3) to do any real hikes, but they are definitely capable.
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Because of the weather, the park was nearly empty. From personal experience, I know that on nice days, cars line up just to get in. Unfortunately though, we were a few weeks too early to catch the vibrant fall colors that I was looking for, but the view of the waterfalls was pretty just the same. I took this picture at Overlook 2.
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I asked the kids if they enjoyed the park and received a resounding, "Yes!" :)

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Pumpkin pumpkin big and fat...

Happy Columbus Day! School is closed and I have the day off too. If the weather holds up, my parents and I are going to Great Falls Park to hopefully catch the beginning of fall foliage. It's so nice to have an extra day off :)

This weekend we carved the tiny pumpkins we harvested from our yard. And this year, by "we," I am not completely lying. They kids actually sort-of participated. First I got them to pose with their pumpkins and make the faces they want the hubs to carve:
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Then we put papers down on the table and got started. After Luke cut off the tops, we asked the two of them to help clean the inside. They were reluctant...although I definitely see improvement from last year. Anna daintily picked out the seeds one by one, but Will refused to lay one finger on it. He kept on saying, "Yuuuuuck!" So Luke scraped everything out for him with a spoon and left one seed inside and told Will to get that one seed out or else no jack-o-lantern for him. Instead of reaching in, he turned the pumpkin over and dumped the seed out. Haha. So yup, he helped too.

Then Luke carved and Anna entertained us with a rhyme she learned at school.

Anna decided she wanted a little smirk and, of course, Will's is his signature wink-y eye smile. We put the jack-o-lanterns in the kids room, as an additional night light for them. I am glad the kids swiped those battery-operated lights from Uncle Paul's wedding :) So useful they turned out to be.
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So did you carve pumpkins this year yet? After Halloween I am going to hit up Target and see if I can find any no-carving decorating kits on sale...will have to try those next year!

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Anna and Will, an Update

It’s time for an update on my favorite sibling pair!

I will start with Will.

Will has been attending school for over a month now and things are going great. Sure he has a touch of separation anxiety whenever I drop him off, but at noon when we pick him up, he always says, “I had a great day!” Right now because of our work schedules, my dad picks up Will the most often and takes him to daycare. I am glad that my dad is available to help or else we would never be able to swing this arrangement. As much as I like Will’s school and daycare, I hope once he turns 3, a spot in the 3’s class at Anna school will open up and Will can attend the same school as Anna. That would make my life a lot simpler! But in the meantime, Will is thriving at school and even though he says he doesn't like school, I know he enjoys it. I just love digging through his backpack to find art projects and hearing the songs he sings to himself. It’s so nice for him to be in a more structured environment rather than the homey environment at his daycare.

Will continues to be a mellow little fella who love love loves to snuggle with me. He falls asleep in his own bed, but comes over to sleep between me and the hubs in the middle of the night. This may be a big no-no for some families, but honestly? I kind of love it. He’s my little snuggle buddy and sometimes he wakes me up by laying on top of me and pressing his face against mine. Just this morning he wouldn't get off of me because he wanted to "snuggle with you (me) all day long." Haha, so sweet and funny. He gives kisses and just so darn affectionate. I never expected this from a boy, especially since the girl I have is quite the polar opposite!

Right now, I will say that Will needs a lot of practice in fine motor skills. Even before Anna turned 3, she knew how to hold a pencil correctly and use scissors properly. Will? Not so much. He’s nowhere near knowing how to draw people, he has a hard time peeling stickers, and he has no clue about using glue sticks. But the good thing about having an older sister is that whenever he sees her do doing homework, he is curious about it. And little by little, I am sure he will catch up.

The most notable thing about Will is that he’s almost always happy. The only time he cries is when he’s hurt or when I spank his bum. Being physically hurt and cry is one thing, but I think when I spank him, it’s the emotional hurt that he feels. I’ve mentioned before that Will is a sensitive soul and this is definitely a perfect example. He will cry and cry after a spanking unless we make up (ie. hug it out). He still asks, “Mama, are you happy?” all the time. I’ve learned that he gets really stressed out if I say, “No.” So now I just say, “Yes, I am always happy when I am with you.”

It’s hard believe my boy will be 3 soon. For his birthday, he tells me he wants a dinosaur party and everything yellow. We will probably have a very small gathering for him, filled with all his favorite things, but the biggest celebration of all is that we will be heading to Disney World again right around his birthday! Can’t wait to see how he will enjoy Disney second time around.
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This is turning into a novel so I will keep it short for Anna.

Now that Anna goes to a bigger-kid school, she sputters out all kind of smart stuff, like “It’s fall and winter here, but spring and summer at other places because the Earth rotates around the sun.” Or she suggests that at the dinner table if anyone wants to talk, he/she should raise hand so we don’t talk over each other. She asks intelligence questions, like where we get our food or where do animals go in the winter. She's learning sight words, learning to read ("They want me to read. I don't know how to read, I am only 4!"), and learning to write. It’s such a big difference -- before at her old school, all she ever said was that she “played” and the classroom job she had for the day, but now she has a lot more to share. I love hearing her stories. Beside her core class, she’s also enjoying the extras, like music, computer, tumbling, and ballet. Everything is her favorite.

Of course she still gets a tad upset whenever I drop her off, but I think the intensity of it is definitely a lot lower than before. I just make it quick, “Love you! Have fun!” And whenever I pick her up, she’s always smiling so I take it that it’s all good. We have a parent-teacher meeting coming up and I will learn more about her progress. I am looking forward to hearing what her teachers have to say about her.

Anna just turned 4.5 years old and I think she takes after my introverted personality. She’s happy with just having one friend at school and when I took her to a birthday party a couple of weeks ago, she was perfectly fine with being on her own instead of following the crowd. It was a party at the Little Gym and she wasn't shy about trying new things, but I can tell that Anna dances to the beat of her own drum. She isn't a follower, nor a leader, but she’s just herself. I see a lot of myself in her. When I was little, I was anxious about school, wasn't a social butterfly, and was OK with being alone. But while I was painfully shy and soft-spoken, Anna isn't afraid to speak her mind.

Here is why.

This Sunday we went to Meadowlark Gardens and, while playing at the children's section, other kids came along and they all started conversing. In one instance, an older boy egged Anna to sit on a decorative garden structure, which was very apparent that it was NOT for sitting. When Anna refused, he got on himself to demonstrate. The hubs and I watched the whole thing unfold. Instead of following along, she stood her ground and said, "No, you are not supposed to do that!" and walked away. Luke and I were so proud of her! Then another group of children (siblings I think) came over and wanted Anna and Will to leave where they were sitting. Again, Anna spoke up and eventually the group left them alone. Luke and I were so happy with her that, on the way home, we went to McDonald's for a treat!
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Right now both kids are anticipating Halloween. Will asks, "Are we going to Halloween?" all the time. Haha. We tell him, "Halloween is not a place you go, buddy." They both have their costumes ready and Halloween parade & party at school, which I will surely join them for the festivities. Being a working mom can be downright crazy and tiring and frustrating, but 99.999999% of the time, I wouldn't trade this for anything in the world.

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Saturday, October 4, 2014

Can you spy the baby guppies?!

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

a list of books that the kids are reading / sept 2014

What have you been reading to the kids lately? Here are some good ones we are reading!
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|1| I think this is a book that all families can relate to -- the importance of intentionally spending time together. When I read it to the kids, we talked about the illustrations and Anna was able to tell the story in her own words just from the pictures. I like that it’s a quick read but with a profound message :)

|2| Will has been learning about colors and mixing colors at school so this book is a hit with him. It’s also a win for me as well because I like books that are easy and quick to read. This book is both.

|3| The hubs read this book and we all listened. Such a cute and fun book with clever rhymes, just like all other Julia Donaldson books. My other favorite books by the same author is What the Ladybug Heard, The Snail and the Whale, and Room on the Broom (perfect for Halloween).

|4| Iggy Peck is no regular toddler -- he makes towers out of diapers, cathedrals out of apples, and a chateau of chalk. This book encourages imagination and perseverance, which are both great things. Highly recommend! I will have to pick up the companion book, Rosie Revere, Engineer from the library.

|5| You can't go wrong with any of the Elephant and Piggie books. My kids always get a kick out of them and it's great for teaching word recognition.

|6| I am a 36-year-old grown woman and I really REALLY like this book. Lots of pictures, not too many words, and hilariously funny and sweet.
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|7| I love this book and author. The story is so cute and simple with great drawings. It's definitely a book that I can read over and over again and not get tired of it.

|8| I can't comment on this one because Luke read it to the kids. I got it based on the raving reviews on Amazon -- a perfect 5-star....I had to give it a try.

|9| I loved the Berenstain Bears growing up and now we are slowly reading through every single book in the series with the kids. With Halloween coming up, this book is perfect. This one actually has 3 stories, all with just the right amount of spookiness and all with happy endings.

|10| A super cute story about friendship and taking turns! We all love it and I have already reserved more books by Helen Cooper at the library. Seriously, I am a new fan.

|11| Since we grew our own pumpkins this year, this was a fitting book to read. My kids are probably too young to fully understand the science behind it, but the illustrations are great. I will probably check it out from the library again next year when they are older.

|12| This is a funny, charming Halloween story that introduces some of the traditional frightening monsters of Halloween like a green-faced witch, vampire, ghost, bat, and a mummy but in a non-scary fun-filled way. Great book!!

--
how we borrow library books, books from april 2014, books from nov 2013, books from sept 2013, books from april 2013

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Fall Zoo Day

Earlier this month I saw a Family Zoo Package deal on LivingSocial –- the deal included parking (normally $22), four carousel rides ($3/ride), zoo map (another $3), two panda ears, and two packs of animal “zookies” – all for $25. I clicked on the link…mulled over it…and closed the browser. Later when I clicked the link again, the price showed $22 (yay!) for a limited time, so I jumped on it immediately. Normally a trip to the zoo would cost that much just for parking so this was a terrific deal to me.

Sunday was a nice day, weather-wise, so we decided to make it a zoo day.
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Every time I go to the zoo, I see something that I have never seen before. This time it was the American Trail. Here is a tip: if you start the trail at the Elephant Outpost, the trail is an easy and shady down-slope walk. _DSC1104
Not many animals to be seen on the trail but toward the end is SPLASH PAD and a wonderful viewing area of the sea lions. I think the splash pad would be awesome on hot summer days, but it wasn’t hot so we didn’t stay long. The kids did like the sea lions a lot, though.
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When we existed the trail, we found ourselves at the entrance of Amazonia, one of our favorite places at the zoo. I am trying to get myself in the pictures more with the kids so here is one of us at the rainforest:
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We promised the kids carousel after Amazonia. This carousel was unique in the sense that it featured a lot of exotic animals, not just your typical horse. Of course, my kids didn’t pick anything unique. Will rode the lion and Anna wanted the goat. I ended up on a rhino and hubs on an ostrich just because they were right next to the lion and goat. Pretty fun. I think they are going to expect carousel rides whenever we come to the zoo now.
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The last thing we did before we left was seeing the big cats – lions and tigers. We actually packed the kids pbj sandwiches and chips so we found a bench near the big cats and they ate while watching lion cubs play. Believe it or not, this was our first time packing lunch on outings. Usually whenever we are out and about on weekends, we just grab pho on the way home. But this was great, we saved some money and we stayed at the zoo a bit longer.
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Oh, not pictured, but we also saw pandas (including Bao Bao who was in a tree), elephant, orangutan, bison, wolf, farm animals, and a bunch of sea creatures and reptiles. I am probably missing a couple, though. Overall, we saw more animals than ever before.
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We had a great day at the zoo and I love LivingSocial for making it more affordable and fun!

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Friday, September 26, 2014

this morning's conversation while on the way to school

It's part of my daily morning routine to drop the kids off at school. Sometimes we ride in silence, but today we had a pretty lively talk. I forgot how the conversation actually started but here is a snippet of it. I forget so many cute things that the kids say, but I definitely want to remember this one :)

Anna: When I grow up I am going to have my own house with my own family.
Me: Oooo, can Mama go visit you?
Anna: Sure!
Will: When I grow up I am going to have my own house with my own family.
Me: Ok, can Mama go visit you too?
Will: Yes.
Me: Will I have my own room?
Anna: Yes you will have your own room, but you can sleep next to me.
Will: You can sleep next to me too.
Anna: What about Baba?
Me: I don’t know. Maybe Baba will just stay home in Rohoboth.
Anna: My house will be next to your house.
Will: My house will be next to your house.
Anna: Mama’s house will be in the middle. Then when I want to visit, I will just drive over. I will bring my kids.
Me: Hey Anna, your kids will call me Grandma.
Anna: Why?
Me: It’s just like you call Mama’s mama Grandma.
Anna: I will still just call you Mama.
Me: Ok.

--

Also so I don't forget. The kids and I leave the house at 8:30am in the morning and I drop off Will first at his school just around 8:40am. Anna and I walk him to his classroom together. Then Anna and I get back in the car and drive 2 minutes to her school. I walk her in and help her put her stuff (backpack and lunchbox) away. Then I drive to work, which takes about 10 minutes. It has been almost a month since school started and the two drop-offs I feared isn't as bad as I had imagined...but of course, cold days are coming...

(Anna - 4.5 years old :: Will - 2 years and 10 1/2 months old)

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