Friday, November 21, 2014

Will Turns Three

I took this picture on the last day of our vacation, on Will's 3rd birthday. We were about to start the drive home, but before that, I found a yellow wall and asked him to, "Smile!"
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Will faced a lot of changes this year. The biggest being that he went from staying home with Grandma to starting daycare (in March) to starting school (in September). I wasn't prepared for the daycare change, but Will made it so easy for me because he took it all in strides and adjusted so well. He didn't warm up to school as easily. For a while he was so upset when I drop him off at school...he howled and whined and kicked like you won't believe...so the teacher suggested doing curbside drop-off (instead of walking him to the classroom). I took her suggestion and now not even a couple of weeks later, he's completely tear-free! I am thrilled!

Right now, Will's daily weekday schedule looks like this: school from 9am-12pm and daycare from 12:15pm to 4:45pm. I don't like that he has to be at two places every day, but this will last at the most till the summer. Starting in June, the plan for Will is to attend full-day summer camp at Anna's school, which he will continue to attend for the 2015-2016 school year. But in the meantime, Will is learning and thriving and having fun at various places.

Anyway, turning THREE was a very exciting moment for Will. We have been talking about it and celebrating it all month long. On the eve of his birthday, he said, "When I wake up tomorrow, I will be 3." Yep, he got it right exactly.

On his actual birthday, we were just wrapping up our 10-day stint in Orlando and spent much of the day driving toward home. He had Burger King chicken nuggets for lunch and shrimp lo-mein for dinner. Eh, not very healthy. We sang happy birthday altogether in the car at the top of our lungs. He cuddled to sleep that night with hubs (I bunked with Anna) at a Hampton Inn in North Carolina. It was a very uneventful birthday, but he was very happy.

We didn't give Will a party this year, but we did bring cupcakes to his classroom. I found these dinosaur ring toppers online. They were perfect for my dino-loving boy. I also made "Make-Your-Own Dinosaur Fossil" goody bags for his classmates. He helped me package everything.
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It was so fun to spend an hour with Will in his school environment. I bet it made him feel really special for us to be there. Luke even read 3 books to the kids and THEY ALL LOVED IT. During our visit, I learned a song that they sing about the weather and now, whenever he will humor me, I love singing it together with him.
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Overall…Will is growing up and becoming his own person, but yet he is still a sweet and caring little kid and always soooo adorable and squeezable. He is super active, super mischievous, super talkative, and super loud. He's my most favorite son ever. And there is not a day that goes by without me telling him that.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Anna's School Picture, the Second Edition

What a difference a year makes!
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(Anna, taken on 10.10.14, at 4 years and 7 months old)

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Disney World 2014! The Pre-Disney Days!

We booked our Disney vacation back in May when the annual FREE Disney Dining Plan promotion came out. Since there were only few dates available in October and I didn't want the kids to miss out on Halloween back home, we picked to go in November, around Will's birthday. The package included a 6-night stay at Disney's Pop Century Resort, theme park tickets (6 days for 3 people - Will was free), and of course, the DDP (!!!). So the original plan was just that - drive to Disney World, spend about a week there, and drive back.

But sometime in July, the Hilton Vacation Club contacted Luke with a relatively cheap 3-night stay at a Hilton property in Orlando (plus a few other freebies) if we sit through a sales pitch. We had done it before at Myrtle Beach, knew what to expect, and figured why the heck not? We were already going to be there anyway so we might as well extend our vacation and explore Orlando/outside of Disney, something we had never done before.

Well, it turned out we didn't explore much of anything in those 3 days...but I still want to document it for posterity. Even though it was uneventful, it was still memorable!

Day 1: After a 13-hour overnight drive, we tried checking in at the hotel at 9am, only to be told that there were no rooms available. Luke was half dead by this point so it was just me and the kids. Luckily, the hotel had a nice playground and we were just in time for a storytime/craft activity, but ultimately, the pool kept the kids extremely happy. The room was finally ready 2 or 3 hours (more like 3 if I remember it correctly because Luke was annoyed) later. We unpacked, cleaned up, ate a snack-y kind of lunch and everyone took a nap. We didn't do much for the rest of the day - had a great dinner at a Chinese buffet (we need Chinese food wherever we go) on International Drive and that was about it? All I know is that the kids were in good spirits - they loved being away from home and on vacation!!
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Day 2: The morning was spent at the Hilton Vacation Club sales pitch. We didn't buy, but it still took over two hours. Luke and I agreed that we are never going to sign up to do such things again NO MATTER WHAT. Such a waste of time. After the pitch, we went back to the same Chinese buffet (we really need Chinese food wherever we go) for lunch. I think it was around 1pm - nap time - when we got back to the resort, but the kids really wanted to go swimming so we did. We spent a good amount at the pool and it was reaffirmed again for me that a pool is all the kids need. They asked to go to the pool every single day for the rest of the vacation and I think they would actually choose the pool over the Magic Kingdom.

Anyway, by the time we went back to our room and cleaned up, it was past 4pm and time for a late nap. And guess what? The next thing I knew, it was like 8pm when I woke up. And the kids were still sleeping! As it turned out, Will just kept on sleeping till the next morning. Anna woke up for about half an hour, ate a cereal bar and apple, and went back to bed. I thought I would never be able to fall back to sleep after my 4-hour nap, but I did without any problems. Luke, still sick, woke up for a bit but went right back to sleep too. I guess we were all so tired!

Day 3: This was the day I started to get sick (still felt alright, though), but it was the third day of our vacation and we haven't really done anything super exciting so off we went to Downtown Disney. It was nice to walk around and enjoy the beautiful warm weather. We browsed from store to store (Mickey memorabilia galore!) and had a great morning there. For lunch, we ate at T-Rex, similar to Rainforest Cafe, but with dinosaurs. The food was subpar, but we were there for the dinos!
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We went back to the resort after lunch, showered, and napped. We didn't sleep the day away this time, but when we woke up, Luke was feeling horrible. His throat had gotten much worse and he wasn't looking so hot. He ended up deciding to go to a local clinic -- the man NEVER go see doctors so I knew it was bad. The doctor (nurse?) diagnosed him with a sinus infection and gave him antibiotics. When he came back with dinner (Papa John's), he said he was feeling a million times better and we thought that he was on his way to recovery. Little did we know that we would BOTH be sick for the rest of the vacation...

In the meantime, the kids were having all kinds of fun.
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Whoa - this was a long post. If you made it this far, thanks! The next day, Day 4, we checked out and started our official Disney vacation at Pop Century. I won't be blogging about the vacation day by day from this point forward, instead I will just be sharing some highlights. Stay tuned :)

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Disney World 2014!

We are back from Disney World! Luke and I were both sick throughout the vacation, but as a family we still made some wonderful memories and had a great time together! I will be blogging all about our trip in the upcoming weeks so get ready for some Disney overload!

This was the first time we drove to Disney World so I am focusing this first post on just that.

Last year we purchased a minivan so the family could take more road trips in the years to come. While we have driven to Williamsburg (3 hours away) several times, I consider Disney as our first big road trip. It was great -- I had the whole back row to myself and was able to help the kids with whatever the needed. And yes, with all the space, I was able to lay down and take naps too. Driving also meant money saved on airfare. We would probably had to add another $1000 to our vacation total had we flown.

For our trip there, we decided to drive during the night time hours so we could drive without distractions from the kids. We left home at 7:46pm (I checked the clock) and started the 12+ hour drive. As soon as we were on our way, I settled the kids in with pillows and blankets and told them to go to sleep. Both kids were out within the first hour and all was good.
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Luke drove for the first 4 hours and, when we stopped for gas, I took over. Even though I had worked all day, I was pretty alert and enjoyed the drive through the Carolinas. I lasted for 3 hours and Luke drove the rest of the way to Orlando. Ultimately, it took us 13 hours, with a stop at McDonald’s for breakfast.

As for the kids, they did SO good – slept the entire time except for the last 2 hours.
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Once we arrived at the hotel at 9am, Luke was exhausted. He hadn’t gotten a good night sleep the night before (woke up at 4am to take my parents to the airport) and was at the beginning of his sickness. I was doing ok (I didn’t get sick until a few days later) since I got some sleep in the car and I knew that I had to be awake for the kids. Unfortunately our room wasn’t ready so Luke could only rest outside while the kids got into their bathing suits and splashed away.
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(Just a note that we stayed at a Hilton near SeaWorld the first 3 days before checking in at Disney’s Pop Century for the next 6 days.)

For our drive home, we broke it into two days. We left Pop Century around 9:20am and drove until 6pm-ish to Fayettesville NC. I will always remember this day because it was Will's birthday! The birthday boy spent most of his 3rd birthday in the car and had Chinese take-out at a Hampton Inn :) Shrimp lo-mein!! I loved this night at the hotel with my little family :)
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Then the next day, after breakfast at the hotel, we all piled back in the van a little after 8am and survived the rest of the drive home. We pulled into our garage just before 2:30pm, after stopping to get groceries and picking up Pesto dog.

Overall, the kids did wonderfully in the car with the help of tablets.
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Luke and I have talked about our future trips and decided that we are no longer going to drive through the night – it’s unsafe and it takes a toll to stay up. I definitely feel that it was particularly worse for Luke this time because he wasn’t feeling well – but since he does the bulk of the driving wherever we go, I will leave it up to him. I thought driving during the day would cause lots of stress (dealing with kids and all), but it was actually okay! Of course, there were some hard moments, but nothing terrible. Next time for any long drives, we will definitely break it up to make it more manageable.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

School Halloween Parties & Parades

This year Halloween felt like an all-day affair. In addition to the festivities at night, I spent the entire morning at school parties and parades. Not that I am complaining because I really do enjoy participating in school events and watching my kids in their classrooms.

Anna had her school events first thing in the morning. I signed up to bring cupcakes for the party with a high ambition that I was going to make these spider cupcakes. Well, you can probably already guess how that story went. I ended up buying two trays of cupcakes from the grocery store the night before and called it a day. #momfail. So anyway, the classroom party was first and then parade around the block. The kindergarteners led the way and I don't think Princess Belle ever stopped smiling. She was just delirious happy for some reason. Haha.
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After the parade, the entire school (all the 3's, 4's, and KG) piled into the music room for some songs. It was honestly kind of crazy with all the kids and parents, but again, it was fun to get a glimpse of Anna's school life. She's really thriving at this school and I am yet again very happy that we made the decision to enroll her there.
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What's Halloween 2014 without the cast from Frozen?
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Then it was Will's turn. When I found him in his classroom, he was stuffing himself with all sort of treats. I have been thinking about pulling Will out of preschool and just send him to daycare for another year. The logistics of it all is a big hassle, but the biggest reason is that I hate that he has to go to two different places (1/2 day school and 1/2 day daycare) every day, especially with cold weather coming. It would be so much better if he was in an all-day program somewhere…. But the teachers he has are so great and the main teacher actually emails me on her own to tell me about Will’s time at school. I suppose I am just too sentimental to let go.
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The hubs came to Will's school and walked the parade with him. I will say that our little knight looked a little bit dazed and confused about the whole thing, but still did great :)
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So as I said, I love attending school events. They beat any day at the office.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Will's 3rd Birthday! Where a Kid Can Be a Kid!

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The short version:

Anna: “I love Chuck E Cheese’s! I want to come back again for my birthday!”
Will: "Me too!"

The longer version:

Since we won’t be home on Will’s birthday this year, my parents offered to take all of us to Chuck E Cheese’s for an early celebration. I had never been to a Chuck E Cheese’s before, but I figured with games, rides, and pizza, what could possibly go wrong?

Well, I was mostly right. Anna had a ball of fun. She loved all the games and got super excited whenever she won tickets. She thoroughly enjoyed everything. Yay!

As for the birthday boy, I think it was the combination of being a little bit under the weather, daylight savings time, the noise, the flashy lights, and all the activities around him...but he was definitely tired and overwhelmed and wasn't his sunshine-y self. But, in true Will fashion, he still tried all the games we showed him and wanted more. His favorite was the Bob the Builder ride.
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We arrived at around 11:15 (they open at 11) and because there were several birthday parties going on, the place was already packed. We ended up getting a package deal of food and game tokens. For $49.99, we got two large pizzas, four drinks, and 100 game tokens (normally the package is for 80 game tokens, but I had a coupon). The wait for the food wasn't bad. We placed the order, played for about 15 minutes, and the food arrived. The pizzas were, surprisingly, very good and fresh. Between the 6 of us, there was not a crumb left!
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As for the rest of our Chuck E Cheese's experience? The one we went to has a 2.5 stars rating on Yelp and I read all the horrible reviews before we went. So I wasn't expecting much, except for the kids to have fun. As I said, Anna did, but Will didn't have as much. Although I think had we come on a different day (a less busy weekday, more rested, etc), he would had a more memorable time. It was truly a place where a kid can be a kid. From an adult perspective, the entire place was very chaotic and not-very-clean, but it was exactly what I expected and that was fine. I can't say we will be back again on our own dime, but a heartfelt thank you to my parents for giving us the experience! A birthday at Chuck E almost seem like a rite of passage.

Anyway, we were there for just under two hours and there was more waiting at home...

Luke had gone to the store in the morning and we got Will out of the house so he didn't see the goodies until we came home from Chuck E Cheese's. As soon as he saw that dozen of yellow balloons, his eyes grew wide and he grinned SO BIG. Just the reaction I was looking for! Then we brought out the cake, lit the candle, and sang happy birthday. He was super pleased! As for presents, lets just say Will made out like a bandit :)
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About the cake - he requested a purple cake (very odd), but was happy with this purple-bordered cake that Luke found!

Will had asked for a "yellow dinosaur party" for his birthday, but I definitely took the easy way out... Sorry buddy! Luckily he doesn't seem to care and hasn't mentioned anything. His birthday celebrations are just starting though -- we will be bringing cupcakes to his class on Wednesday. And THEN....DISNEY HERE WE COME!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Princess Belle and Knight on Halloween 2014!

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Halloween is quickly becoming one of my favorite holidays. It's so fun to watch the kids anticipate Halloween with such delight. This morning, Anna asked to go to school. Seriously, that never happens. Even Will, who has recently been having a hard time with separation didn't make a peep today. It was like he knew something special was happening.

Anyway, happy happy Halloween from our little Princess Belle and Knight!

It took Anna 4.5 years, but she finally caught on the princess fever. When I asked what she wanted to be this Halloween months ago, she said, "Belle in the yellow dress." I got a cheapo Belle dress, only $15. The quality shows, but Anna was as happy as can be in the dress. And I don't have to worry about her ruining it. As for Will, I am not sure where he got the idea of a knight from, but he was adamant about it too. Unlike the monkey suit from last year, he happily put on his armor and helmet again and again.

The kids both had their Halloween party and parade this morning at school, which I will write about it in another post, but tonight we went trick-or-treating around my friend's neighborhood!

Together with Mikey and Princess Aurora, the kids went from door to door and had a blast through it all. I think Anna is at the perfect age for trick-or-treating. She knew just exactly what to do and did it so well -- went straight to the door, rang the bell, yelled "trick-or-treat!", said "thank you!", and off she went to the next house.
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I think we went to every. single. house. that was open for business. It took us about 40 minutes and by the end their jack-o-lantern buckets were FULL. Very fun times.
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I love this picture of Anna below.
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Victory!

How was your Halloween night? Hope it was safe and full of sugar!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Fall Festival-ing

Back when Anna was just starting to get sick and the rest of us were still healthy, we had tickets to a fall festival that were “use-it-or-lose-it.” So of course we had to use it. Judging by Anna’s smiles, it wasn’t like we dragged her and she had a horrible time. But regardless of the fun the kids enjoyed, the festival was definitely lame and I am here to give you a full report :)
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Weeks ago, Luke emailed me at work and told me that he bought a deal off LivingSocial – tickets for two adults and two kids to the 1st Annual Tysons Fall Harvest. It was $20...which actually didn't save us a whole lot because kids under 16 were free and adult tickets were $10 had we purchased in advance anyway. The package did give us some freebies that we would otherwise had to pay for, such as the petting zoo, bouncy house, and hay ride (which ended up being canceled due to insurance reasons). Anyway, it was just a fair deal for our family, but I assumed that since there was an admission fee, the festival should be pretty good, right?

WRONG. WRONG. WRONG. SO WRONG.

It was nothing but vendor booths with a few kiddie attractions (that cost extra money)! For the past 2 years, we had gone to Fall for Fairfax, which I disliked because it was just all marketing but at least that was free. So having to pay $20 for the same thing was ridiculous. Haha, I sound annoyed, but really I wasn't. The whole week we hyped up the event by telling the kids that they were going to go on pony rides and getting their faces painted. So when they got to do exactly just that, they had a great time. And it was fun for us to see them happy.

Stuff we did:

A $3 pony ride around a circle that lasted less than a minute. On the bright side, the kids enjoyed their first riding experience and we were first in line so no wait!
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On the event website, it read, "Enjoy the Hay Maze for FREE all day ... try not to get lost!" Um...how could you possibly get lost when the hay bales were only, like, a foot tall? Will sure had fun leaping, though. Just look at him go in the picture below.
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We also visited the petting zoo (freebie through the LivingSocial deal) and did pumpkin bowling (also a freebie because of the missing hay ride that was promised), although instead of rolling with a pumpkin, like advertised on the website, it was just with a ball. Whaaaa?
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Anna really wanted to get her face painted so we let her do it ($8). She picked Twilight Sparkle from My Little Pony which was perfect since she's really into that show right now. Will skipped the face painting and went to the bouncy house instead (another freebie).
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To sum it up - I would be shocked if there was a 2nd annual Tysons Fall Harvest. You definitely won't find us there again. With that said, the kids didn't want to leave when we finally left.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!