Monday, December 31, 2012

last weekend of the year

The last weekend of 2012 was a good one.

First it snowed. Anna was crazy excited and happy. Last year we hardly got any snowfall, and I think she was too young to “get it” anyway. So the little snow we received on Saturday was all new to her and she was just in heaven. We went to hubs’ parents house in the morning and she begged to be outside. So here she is trying to catch the snow in grandma’s backyard.
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After we came home and sent Anna to nap, we put all the Christmas decorations away. Just as we wasted no time to put the tree up, I couldn’t wait to put it away either. So all the traces of Christmas are gone from our home already – before the new year! The house feels simpler. It’s ready for a fresh start.
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In the evening my mom, brother, and sister-in-law came over for dinner. It’s nice to have them over to entertain the kids. The kids are happy and I know they enjoy spending time with the kids. No pictures to share here, unfortunately.

Usually Sunday morning is for grocery shopping and Target-ing, but we still have tons of food in the fridge. So while Will napped, Anna and I worked on a puzzle she received for Christmas. We have been working on these type of jigsaw puzzles for a while now. It’s still frustrating to “help” her, but she’s definitely getting better. For the most part, she can do it on her own, but I just have to talk her through it. Like, I will say, “Where are the pieces for Mickey’s clubhouse?” And she will find them and put them together on her own.
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We finished the day with dinner at my parents’ house. Again, it was just nice to let the kids be with family members.

So as I said, we had a good weekend. Peaceful, productive, full.

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Here is a fun video. Last weekend we went to Rockville MD to sign the paperwork for the refinancing on our house. We already ate lunch at home, but had time to explore before our appointment. We went to a new-to-us cafĂ© called Bubble Express, specializing in Taiwan food. Both kids couldn’t get enough of the bubble tea. It was hilarious watching Will sucking the tapioca balls down using that big straw. Haha.

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Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas 2012 Recap

Whew - I know I can't be the only one who is glad Christmas is over.  I loved the holiday season and it was so much more fun with little kids (Anna at least - Will was meh on the whole change of routine) but I totally craved the return to normalcy.  I was happy to return to work on Wednesday, especially now when most people are still on vacation.  It's a total bliss to have that peace and quiet.  So yes, definitely glad that the holiday busyness is behind us.  Besides, there is so much to look forward to in the new year that I just want to get on with it already!

Here is a little recap of our holiday:

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve dinner was spent with hubs' side of the family.  His mom must had spent the whole day in the kitchen.  The spread was amazing - crispy spring rolls, grilled pork, vegetable stir-fry, rice noodles, and more. I have been eating the leftovers all week.
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After dessert, the kids opened presents. Will had no idea what to do, but looked very festive.  As for Anna, she knew exactly what was happening.  Among many things, she received a new heavy coat.  Much needed as she will be going to preschool in less than - gulp - 5 day!

Christmas Day

We spent a low-key Christmas Day at home. The kids napped regularly and my side of the family came over for a hot pot dinner. Hot pot is the best for a crowd - it's minimal preparation and you do all the cooking while you eat.  Easy and simple.
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Anna tearing into her presents.  She received many presents - we haven't even opened everything yet. Maybe I will re-wrap some for her upcoming birthday.
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Will was more interested in Anna's old walker toy.
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top left: I ordered the Kindle late and didn't think it would get delivered by Christmas. So I printed a little note and put it in a tiny box so hubs' can still have something to open.  In the end, the it did get delivered in time, but I still kept the note and just gave him the present (unwrapped) after he read the note.  Hubs has been using it daily before he goes to sleep.  He said it is his favorite present ever. 

bottom left: No presents for Pesto. Next year I will make sure to include him.

top right: So excited about those bugs. Not.

botom right: Enough presents to open a small toy store.  And this wasn't even everything.IMG_1419
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After presents and breakfast, Anna and I snuggled up and read a Christmas story.  This particular one is called The Sweetest Christmas, starring her favorite silly ol' bear. Oh, and hubs' made a fire and kept it throughout the day. It was so warm and cozy to just spend the day at home.  I love this picture of the boys by the fire. I think Baba is mildly obsessed with his son.
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Just hanging out with family.

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Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas, Christmas time is here.

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Time for joy and time for cheer! Can you believe it? The countdown is almost done. I hope you and yours are enjoying a cozy, warm holiday season. This month we've crunched in a lot of Christmas-ing.  And yesterday we round it all up with a trip to see the National Christmas Tree, an annual event for our family.

Merry Christmas (Eve), everyone!
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Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Presents for the Kiddos

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Anna wrapping her Baba's present. It was a sloppy job, but she did 90% of the work. :)

For Anna and Will’s Christmas presents, I followed the gifting philosophy of one thing they play, one thing they read, one thing to need, and one thing to wear. I tried my best not to go overboard because I know they don’t actually NEED anything. I mean, anything they need, we buy for them when they need it throughout the year anyway.

But, because it is Christmas, this is what they will find under the tree from us.

Anna (2 ¾ years old)
Play : Melissa and Doug See & Spell : Anna knows her uppercase letters, but still gets confused on some lowercase letters. This should help her sort it out.
Read: The Berenstain Bears Storybook Treasury : She loves Sister and Brother Bear. And we got such a steal on this one!  Five dollars!
Need : Edison Training Chopsticks : We would like to see Anna using chopsticks soon.
Wear : New shirts and pants for preschool. (Grandma is getting her some undershirts and a big heavy coat.)

Will (13 months old)
Play : B. Snug Bugs : No idea if he will like these bugs, but they are soft and squishy. Perfect for his little chubby hands.
Read : Baby Einstein Alphabooks : I read so many good reviews and just had to get them for Will. Would you believe that this is the first set of books that we bought specifically for him?
Need: Aquaphor : I bought two small tubes to put in my diaper bag.
Wear : I thought hard of something to buy in this category, but anything I bought would have been a waste. The boy truly has everything he needs.

So as you can see, we kept it pretty simple and easy and cheap.  Everything came under $70!
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And here are two pictures totally unrelated to gifts or Christmas:

Anna and Will and Pesto having a blast with a $10 tent from Walmart.
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The clementine was for his sister, but she didn't finish.  Will got the leftovers.  
eating clementine

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Will - 13 Months Update

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Will turned 13 months old this month! It was a tougher month because Will wasn’t feeling well for about a week after his 1-year well exam. I suspected it was a bad reaction to the vaccinations, but the doctor believed it was a virus. For nearly a week, he wasn’t his happy self. He didn’t eat well, was extremely clingy, and acted like a spoiled crybaby. Every little thing set him off and we were all pretty miserable due to his tantrums. But, he has been healthy for a good couple of days now and we are just so much happier as a family.

Eat & Sleep

Will actually lost some weight this month. He lost appetite when he was sick and he still doesn’t eat as much as he used to. I think he may be getting pickier, too. Before he opens his mouth for anything, but now he turns away. But between him and Anna, he’s still my little star eater. Cooking and feeding the family is the single most stressful part of my day. We are relying more on take-outs and pizza delivery, but I still cook at least 80% of the time. Every time when we order out, I think about how much groceries we could have bought with the same money! But I guess it’s all about the convenience.

Will wakes up between 6a to 6:30a in the morning. Takes his first nap around 9:30a. Then again at 2p. And goes to sleep at 7:15p. He puts himself to sleep and I am just so grateful for that! Even if he fusses, it’s only for minutes and I just leave him alone.

Development

We call Will our little zombie because he often wanders aimlessly around the house. And even though he has been walking for over a month now, he still wobbles and falls down. He’s a typical mischievous little boy. For example, he knows he’s not allowed on the steps by himself, but he will purposely crawl up a few steps and wait for us to find him. Then when we do, he laughs and wiggles as we pick him up. Haha, so funny. He’s definitely learning, though. We haven’t found him messing with Pesto’s water bowl lately and he leaves the Christmas tree alone.
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Will doesn’t say anything consistently except for bye-bye. So I will say that’s his first official word! He babbles nonstop and talks to himself as he plays with his toys. For the first 12 months of his life, Will never sat still for books. We actually gave up reading to him and he was hardly read to! But now he sits still – not just for a short picture book either, but for a long-ish one! He points to the pictures and is really interactive. I help him turn the pages. Sometimes I will have both kids on my lap as I read them books. As tired as I am when I get home after a day of work, it’s always a pleasure to read to them. :)

Thanks to a new gift, we recently found out that Will can stack up to 5 or 6 blocks! He gets so happy whenever he stacks one on top of another without knocking everything down. We clap and praise like crazy and he just soaks it all up! I find that Will knows the proper way to play with toys a lot earlier than when Anna learned, but I am sure it has a lot to with watching his older sister.
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Life as a working mom with two little ones is busy. Sometimes I feel weepy for missing out on their lives when I am at work. But on the flip side, I also enjoy working and can’t imagine staying home day in and day out. The perfect medium is going part-time, which I am definitely looking into in 2013!
13 Months hi_five

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Preschool for Anna

While I am glad that Anna has spent her baby and toddler years at home, now that she’s almost a preschooler, it’s time to send her out to the real world. My biggest hope for preschool is that it can help her come out of her shell. I know I can’t force it, but I think it will be good for her to experience an environment beyond the comforts of home. Besides, I really think she will enjoy it!

There are many preschools to choose from in our area, but once we nixed the idea of church-affiliated preschools, we really only had a handful. And once I decided that Montessori is out of our price range, we had even less to choose from. Factor in that we didn’t want to drive more than 10 minutes to drop off/pick up, we were left with two.

Preschool Option #1
(Mon, Wed, Fri : 9:15 – 12:15 : $227/mo)

This was a play-based cooperative preschool which is run entirely by the participating families. Each family has lots of responsibilities...from assisting in the classroom to maintaining school building and grounds...too much to list here!

But, I loved the idea that parents were so involved and was excited to be part of a close-knit community. Everyone I talked to was nice and friendly and responsive to my emails. I knew that once I got a handle on all the responsibilities, it wouldn’t too overwhelming Especially my mom said she could help, too.

The school runs on a school calendar (Sept to May with the summer months off) and Anna would be placed in the 3’s class. She would be the youngest in class since she will be just turning 3 in March. And she would be joining the class after winter break, while the rest of the kids would already had half a year together. I liked this school because they go on field trips, has weekly music class with an outside teacher, and Cooking Mondays.

Preschool Option #2
(Tues, Wed, Thurs : 9:00 – 12:00 : $235/mo)

This is the preschool we are going with. It’s a activities-centered preschool run by an old lady who has been doing it for more than 50 years. The “campus” is actually 3 houses she had bought in an old, quiet community. It has a 5:1 student/teacher ratio and a huge, sprawling playground surrounded by trees. All the teachers have been there for many years and seem to really know what they are doing.

Hubs and I toured the school together with the director and instantly got a great vibe from her. She may be like over 100, but she’s energetic and lively. She showed us the classroom that Anna would be in, where she would go potty, and answered all the questions we had. The facility may be old, but it has an homey atmosphere, which is what Anna is used to.

Perhaps what sold me about this school is that Anna will be starting with a brand new group of children. The age range among the kids is smaller than Preschool Option #1….they will mostly all just be turning 3 in the early part of 2013. For the first year, Anna will be there from January until June. Then she will have the summer off and start back up again in September. I also like the schedule of going to school 3 days in a row…it promotes consistency and makes long weekends possible.

The only thing I don’t like about the preschool is that it doesn’t have a web presence. Can you believe that? I couldn't either. There are no computers in the office…everything is done by hand and communicated by phone. But hubs assured me that once Anna is enrolled, we will be communicating with her main teacher, who does send out occasional emails herself from home, anyway. So far, it really hasn’t been an issue since the school is very responsive by phone (they pick up every time I call).

Yesterday was the Open House and I took Anna there to meet the assistant teacher and see the classroom. She was shy, but played with the toys on her own while I talked to the teacher. As we drove home, she said she likes the school and is excited about going. Haha, I guess we will see how it goes in a few more weeks! I am just crossing fingers that she doesn’t get sick right away.

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After all those Will video recently, here is one of Anna. Warning: if you are not her Grandma, you may fall asleep. But we still think it’s cute.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Look at holiday lights. Check.

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Apparently, looking at the lights made her want to do karate kicks.IMG_1213
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Riding on Santa's sleigh.

Like all parents out there, we are all about making the holiday season magical for the kids and giving them new experiences. We have been doing Christmas crafts and listening to Christmas music at home, but last night, because the weather was so mild, we took the kids to see the light displays at Meadowlark Gardens. We all had a nice time – definitely want to make it an annual thing if we can!

As soon as we entered the complex and Anna saw the lighted trees, she ooooh’ed and ahhhh’ed and got really excited. I did, too. I have always LOVED Christmas lights. It made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Everything was so pretty. I only wish we took better pictures to share, but our small point-and-shoot just doesn’t do well in the dark.

Will has been feeling under the weather. The doctor thinks he has caught a virus and we can only wait it out. So he has been clingy and fussy. But even with him not feeling well, he was fascinated by all the lights around him. I know next year when we come back again, he’s going to run everywhere.

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My favorite display was at the end – the meteor shower.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Recently /

/ A great meal at Uno...until the end, when Will pooped (it seems like he saves his poop for when we are out) all over himself and I had to carried him out of the bathroom topless. Haha.
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/ They are 20 months apart, but weigh the same.  One is picky and the other is a bottomless pit.
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/ Getting into the holiday spirit with a sleigh ride. 
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/ They are not your typical "holiday" cookies, but we baked these Reeses Peanut Butter Surprise cookies last night after dinner. They were definitely a thousand calories each, but tasted so good. I pointed my camera at these two and Anna leaned over, looked at the camera, and smiled. Love that girl.
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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Story Behind This Wreath

The process of making this wreath was frustrating and bumpy. I wish I took pictures along the way….to show you the real story behind it…but unfortunately, I didn’t. I will attempt to describe it, though.
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SUNDAY NIGHT (@ 5:45) We packed up the family and drove to Michaels. It was only minutes away so I didn’t think we had to bring diapers. As soon as we took Will out the car, we smelled it. The boy pooped. So instead of shopping leisurely, I did a mad dash of grabbing what I needed, but only to have to wait in line with a herd people ahead of us. I don’t know what it is about Michaels, but that place always seem to have extra long lines. And the cashiers work in slow motion.  Just imagine standing still while holding a stinky baby...

SUNDAY NIGHT (@ 8:20ish) I started wrapping the yarn around the foam wreath. Only, apparently, I was pulling the yarn from the wrong end and my progress was so slow. It took me almost an hour and I only had like 3% of the wreath wrapped. I wanted to quit. Finally, hubs showed me the light and taught me which end was up. After that, it was actually fun wrapping that wreath.

MONDAY MORNING at work, I couldn’t stop thinking about how I don’t love the pre-made decorations I bought to put on the wreath. I was in a hurry, remember? I had originally looked up how to make felt flowers, but it intimidated me. But when I came across this tutorial, it sealed the deal. After work, I went to Michaels AGAIN to get the supplies and waited in another long line.

MONDAY NIGHT (@ 8:00) The minute Anna was tucked in bed, I got right to work! The felt flowers were easy and a joy to make. No templates, just freehand. For instructions, see here. A note - I used white glue, which I don’t recommend. I am asking for a hot glue gun for Christmas. Anyway, after the flowers were made, I arranged them on the wreath and glued them down. It didn’t look sturdy, but I hoped it would settle overnight.

THIS MORNING I held up the wreath…..and all the flowers fell down! I told hubs that I needed to make ANOTHER trip to Michaels to get the proper glue and he told me to just use pins. PINS. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that. As late as I was for work, I pinned those flowers down and finally hung up the darn wreath.

TA-DA! That was a lot of work for a wreath, no?

Hubs said that the wreath looks more Fall than Christmas. I can see that with the yellow, red, and brown. But Christmas colors don’t have to be just red, green, silver, and gold…. So the wreath is staying up!

Now that I made it once, I know I can do it better and faster next time. I kind of want to make one for every season so we can have a wreath in our living room all the time.

So pretty!  Easily the best part of the project.
Felt Flowers

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