Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Almost 3: Starting School

Wow, time flies, Anna is about to turn 3. I will be writing a series of posts throughout the next few weeks, in the hopes that it can help me remember what is happening in her world at this time.

Starting School

It has been a whole month since Anna started preschool.

By now, I had hoped she would have adjusted. The reality? She FRICKING HATES SCHOOL.

Okay, maybe hate is a strong word.

But she wails and screams at the mention of getting ready for school. She says, "I JUST WANT TO STAY HOME WITH BABY WILL!! DON'T WANT TO GO!!" And it just goes on and on.

It hasn't been a day that she hasn't cried at drop-off.

Sometimes I wonder if Anna is too young for school? Maybe she's better off at home? Maybe we will wait until September, when she's 3 1/2? When she is more mature? But I remind myself that this is only 3 days a week, 3 hours a day. And I LOVE that she's going outside of her comfort zone and being exposed to new things.

Having said that...

When we go pick her up after school, she's all smiles and giggles and as happy as can be. She has the biggest, proudest, and happiest smile on her face.

So we ask, "Anna, did you have fun at school today?" And she will reply, "No."

OK...whatever.

We received her first report card today. I was a little disappointed that it didn't mention anything about how Anna plays with the other children or how she listens to the teachers. I signed the report card and asked those questions. Hope to get some answers soon. But overall, the report is that Anna is improving and participating and they are positive that she will be a totally different person by the end of school year. We shall see!

So there you go - an update on Anna and her school.

--
If she had her druthers, she would stay home with her brother Baby Will all day long.


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Monday, January 28, 2013

Our Well-Documented Pho Night

With the number of pictures I took at our latest meal at Pho 75, you would probably think we never had a bowl of Vietnamese noodle soup before. Not true. We actually eat here at least once a month. Sometimes twice. Sometimes even three times. We just love it there. It's fast, kid-friendly, economical, and so good. I decided to whip out my camera this past Saturday to document the whole thing. Pho Night is one of our favorite family activities and I want to remember it.

On the ride over. The kids were kind of happy.

Lately we have been going at night and it's much less crowded than lunch time, so we got to pick our own table. Will sat in a highchair and Anna was in the booster. We got two large bowls for the 4 of us to share. #6, I think, without all those tendon and tripe. The bubbly hot soup bowls came out in less than 5 minutes after we ordered.
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We asked for two small bowls for the kids and scooped some noodles and soup into their bowls. This blue pair of scissors that I carry around has been very useful whenever we eat out.
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Hubs' was on Will duty.
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Anna ate so well. In fact, she only talked to us when she wanted more.
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Slurp.  My empty bowl.
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In the end, the kids and hubs' shared some pink jelly drink that they were all crazy over.
High-five for a great meal out.  20 bucks!
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By now, hubs' was tired of me and my camera.
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On this particular night, we went next door to get some spring rolls before heading home.
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Haha, was this the longest post you have ever read on some bowls of noodles?

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Friday, January 25, 2013

Recently / January Days

The one thing I worried the most about sending Anna to school was her getting sick, especially in the midst of flu season! Well…shortly after her second week of school, she brought home the sniffles. And over the course of last two weeks, we have all gotten sick. In fact, three of us are still under the weather. Nothing major, thankfully. Just runny nose.

Since we have all been kind of sick, we have been staying in on the weekends. Now that Anna goes to preschool, I don’t give myself the pressure of needing to take her out whenever possible anymore. So on the weekends, especially in this dreary weather, I am happy to just stay cozy at home.

This is what we have been up to recently:

/ Anna has been talking a lot about picnics lately. So when spring comes, we will definitely have to go on one, but for now, she picnics at home with Mickey and Minnie.
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/ One of hubs’ two birthday requests was homemade lemon bar. I bought the ingredients and he made it with the kids. Will helped licking the fork.
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/ Slowly but surely, school is getting more tolerable for Anna. I will do a complete update next week when she gets her first REPORT CARD. Haha.
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/ Yesterday it snowed. Hubs’ took the kids out while I was still at work. It was one of the few times that Will really got a chance to walk outside and hubs’ said he was just in awe of everything. I can’t wait to take him to the playground when the weather warms up, he’s going to have so much fun.
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/ A video of the kids doing their thing. They are playing together now. Sometimes nicely, sometimes not. But I love these hands-off parenting moments.

Hope you are all having a good January! Happy Weekend!

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Monday, January 21, 2013

Lion's Head Casserole (Don't worry! No lion meat here!)

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Lion’s Head Casserole is a simple dish of pork meatballs and napa cabbage. It is called Lion’s Head because, supposedly, the meatball looks like a lion's head and the cabbage looks like its mane. Do you see it?  It had been a while since I made it (pre-kids!), but I made it last night and wondered why it took me so long!

Now, I usually judge the success of a dish by whether Anna eats it or not. Well, with nagging, she ate a whole meatball. And lots of cabbage on her own, too. That, along with the simplicity of making the dish from start to finish, I am adding it to the dinner rotation.

Here is how I did it in 3 easy steps:
As with all my cooking lately, I didn’t use measuring spoons. Everything was approximate. For step-by-step recipes, just google "Lion's Head Recipe."

Step 1.  For the meatballs, I combined ground pork, egg, salt, soy sauce, oyster sauce, chopped scallion, minced garlic, and cornstarch in bowl. But really, you can add whatever you want to the meatballs. Tofu, bread crumbs, shredded carrots. Then I heated up oil in a pan, shaped the meat mixture into balls, and fried them until cooked. Set the meatballs aside.

Step 2. Using the same pan with all the meat drippings, I cooked the napa cabbage (rinsed and chopped) until soft and added a little bit of salt and oyster sauce.

Step 3. Then I transferred everything to a claypot. I dumped in the cabbage and placed the meatballs on top. Then I added chicken broth, a splash of sesame oil, and brought everything to a simmer. To thicken it all up, I stirred in some cornstarch/water.

Yum, home cooking is the best.

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Will - 14 Months Update

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Another month has gone by! Here is what Will has been up to.

Eat & Sleep

Will is still a good eater, but just pickier now. On the other hand, I don’t think he’s actually picky, but he just wants to self feed. I do let him have it at the dry stuff -- such as broccoli, mushrooms, meat -- but I am not about to let him self-feed rice porridge. I don’t want to deal with the mess. So what I do is that while he’s concentrating on picking up his dry food, I sneak spoonfuls of porridge in between. It works.

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Now that Will doesn’t eat as much overall but moves non-stop, he doesn’t put on the weight as fast anymore. I know toddlers are supposed to thin out between year 1-2, but I am going to miss my chunky monkey. I love holding him because there is so much of him to hold!

It took Will a long time to sleep through the night, but once he mastered that between 7-8 months, he never looked back. He’s my champion sleeper. I put him down wide awake at night around 7:20p, say goodnight, and walk out. I don’t see him again until the next morning.

On some days he has trouble going down for his morning nap. But just when I think that he may be transitioning to 1 nap, he takes 2 the next day. So for now, we are still trying to have him take 2 naps, but not making a big deal out of it if he doesn’t sleep. Anna was down to 1 nap before she turned 15 months, so maybe it will be the same for Will.

Personality / Temperament / Milestones

Will is wonderful. He is happy, curious, fun, and so independent. True story – on the weekends, after Anna goes down for her nap, we just turn on the TV for us to watch and let Will play on his own until his nap time. Haha. Okay, we rarely do that….because I wouldn’t be able to live with the guilt…but he can really entertain himself for a long time, just as long that we are nearby. Watching over him is the easiest job.

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Will makes a bunch of sounds, but hardly any words yet. In my 13 month update, I said Will could say just 1 word – bye bye. Recently, he started saying ball. But I don’t think he really knows what it means. We definitely don’t put as much effort in teaching Will (words or to sign) as we did with Anna, but he is a pretty good communicator! He looks at us in the eye, points, and make a gesture with his finger whenever he wants something.

This month, Will has become more interested in his Pooh bear and blanket. I have an old (classic) Pooh bear that I have handed down to Will and while he doesn’t “ask” for it, whenever we give it to him to hold, he smiles so big and buries his face right into it. I really want to get him a Tigger (since Anna already claimed she’s Pooh and Will is Tigger) when we go to Disney World (hopefully this Oct!) but I am afraid that he will be attached to this old Pooh by then.

Life Lately

Life as a working mom to two little ones is…..you guess it….busy! I know I said it before that working outside of home means that I will spend *quality* time with the kids when I get home. That I would appreciate them more after being away from them the whole day. Umm...what quality time? By the time I cook, feed/eat (while nagging Anna to hurry up), and clean, I am too wiped out to spend the one hour I have with them before bath time with patience and love.

So instead, this is what they do while I pass out on the couch:



I think life would be significantly easier if food was taken care of and the kids would just eat without giving me grief.

Now I completely understand why some people say it’s just a mad dash to get the kids fed and in bed after they get home from work. I am kind of in the same boat, although I hope I am a little better off since I do get home by 4p. We have a couple of vacations planned for the year already and I just can’t wait for them! I think those consecutive days we will have as a family will be good for everyone.
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Monday, January 14, 2013

Happy Monday!

Those who are friends with me on Facebook already saw this yesterday, but I want to post it here as well. It's Anna singing in Chinese. Totally adorabe in my non-biased opinion. But the ending features the other kid and he's pretty cute, too. Haha.

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Anna's Preschool : Week Two

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The huge, sprawling playground. Just imagine it in the spring!

Anna just finished her second week of school and it’s going….alright!

Sure, in the morning, when we tell her it’s time for school, she cries and shouts, “DON’T WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL! I JUST WANT TO STAY ON THE COUCH!”

But the moment I drop her off, walk outside, and spy on her through the windows, I see that she’s perfectly fine. The teachers say she cries off and on throughout the day, but overall, they tell me she’s doing very well. That she participates and enjoys herself.

However, I am always more interested in what Anna actually tells me after each day. I get the impression that each day gets better and better for her. She went from doing and learning “nothing” to:
"I played with puzzles, trains, everything!"
"I painted grass!"
"I ate square crackers!"
"I went to the potty!"

On the days I pick her up, I get there a bit early to see her in the classroom. I see her listening attentively to the book that the teacher is reading, following directions and putting her chair away, and holding hands and dancing with other kids.

And then she has the happiest smile on her face when she sees me.

And I just love digging through her backpack to see what she brings home. So far, two pieces of artwork.

I don't expect Anna to love school or anything. Honestly? I never liked it growing up either. Ha! But I am just relieved to see that she’s adjusting to the change and that she may actually be having a good and valuable time there. I am so glad we picked this school for Anna and I hope to see her blossom there.
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Balancing a bean bag on her head. Note: See that Pooh bear on the table? It has been a big help. Unbeknownst to the teachers that Pooh is her favorite, they gave it to her on the first day to calm her from crying.  Now it's her "school" Pooh bear.
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Happy to see me waiting outside.

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Monday, January 7, 2013

He Shoots, He Scores!

I don't have much to say, but I do have a video to share. Life with this little man just keeps on getting better and better. He's a ball of sunshine...only whines when he sees you with food and he isn't getting any. He's walking...forward, backward, sideways. I forget a bunch of stuff when I write his monthly updates so I am going to make an effort to jot them down as I remember them. He's favorite toy of late is Violet, a cuddly (purple!) puppy that sings and knows his name (Anna's old toy, but we reprogrammed it for him). He's got 6 teeth - 4 on top, 2 on bottom. His sister is his favorite, although I am not sure the feeling is mutual. However, they are besties in the tub who just crack each other up. I can't get enough of their giggles. Must record that and share it here, too.  Oh, they hold hands in the car.

One of the best things about Will is that he warms up to people quickly.  When Anna was his age, she had a terrible stranger anxiety.  The way she was with other people (family, friends, strangers) and the way she was with just us was night and day.  I wish others could see what a happy personality Anna had.  But now with Will, family + friends see exactly what we see and I am just delighted.  He even smiles at people behind us in the checkout line.  Everyone just coos over him.  I am a proud Mama.

Well, I guess it turned out that I did have a lot to say.  Anyway, the video.

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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Anna's Preschool : Day 1

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Yesterday was a big day for Anna, it was her first day of preschool. It was also her first time away from us since she was a 6-months old baby.

I already knew that adjusting to school wouldn’t come easy for her, but a tiny piece of me secretly hoped that she would prove me wrong. That she would march right into that classroom and never look back. Unfortunately…she didn’t prove me wrong. According to the teacher, she “had a tough day” and “cried for a while.” When hubs went to pick her up, she was sitting at the table on her own while the other kids played Ring Around the Rosie (a game she played before and loved it!). It brought tears to my eyes to hear that she was sad.

I tried to get more information from her after I got home from work, but her answers were so inconsistent that I really don’t know what happened. All I know is that there is a Pooh bear in the classroom and she held on tight to the bear throughout the day. And while other kids had some kind of art to take home, Anna didn’t bring anything back.

I am focusing on the positives right now. That when she saw hubs, she was happy and chatty. That this morning, she still put on her coat and shoes and got into the car with little resistence.

After nearly three years of this parenting thing, watching my children in pain hasn’t gotten any easier, and I don’t think it will ever be. But I know refraining from running and saving her from every challenge is something I must do. So pulling her from school isn’t even on my mind, but here is hoping that things will get better soon.
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This was the picture I took before telling her that we were leaving. Then the cry began and we hurried off.
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To Anna – I know you are discouraged by this new transition, but it’s the start of something wonderful and new – you will see….

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