Sunday, March 31, 2013

An Easter Egg Hunt At Home

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Yesterday the weather was nice and sunny. Today was wet and dreary. Needless to say, I was glad that I listened to the forecast and had our Easter egg hunt yesterday. This year, the kids hunted for eggs right in own front yard. I scattered 3 dozen eggs filled with stickers, chocolates, and, the grand prize, a dollar bill. The whole thing was a lot of fun to watch. Haha, the first egg that Anna cracked open WAS the dollar bill. Anyway, she picked up majority of the eggs, while Will trailed behind with only 3 or 4 eggs. Next year, I am sure he will give his sister some competition.

I think I am going to make this an annual event for our family, even if we do end up participating in some other egg hunts. I love being a Mom because I get to do stuff like this.
Easter
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Sidenote - We gave Pesto a much needed cut and wash this weekend. What a difference a clean dog makes!
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Friday, March 29, 2013

Anna's 3rd Birthday: Dinner & Cake

Before Anna’s 3rd birthday fades into a distant memory, here is a recap of what happened the rest of the day.

(And just as a reminder, she woke up to tons of balloons and hubs + I volunteered at her school’s St. Patrick’s Day party.)

After I drove her home from school, I went back to work while she had lunch and napped. Then when we all got home, we played in her room for a while, but nothing was more exciting than throwing those balloons down the stairs.
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We decided to eat at Olive Garden because 1) it was close to home, 2) we had a coupon (two free kids entrees!), and 3) unlimited soup and breadsticks! Both kids LOVED the smoothies and feasted on mac n’ cheese.
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By the time we were done, we were SO stuffed, but there was still cake waiting for us at home....

This year, I actually made the cake using a tin can (got the idea from here). Anna herself helped with the baking the day before. Her only request was a “pink cake." Such a sweet + simple request and I was happy to honor it. I bought a box of pink lemonade cake mix and a tub of frosting with sprinkles. I have to admit that as pretty and cute as the cake looked (hubs did a great job putting it together), it tasted gross. Way too sweet and it didn't help that we were already full. Still, we all ate it because it was a birthday!

We all sang "Happy Birthday" to her.
Anna's Third Birthday
Family photo. See photos from 2011 and 2012.
Anna's Third Birthday
She liked her pink cake!
Anna's Third Birthday
After the cake, it was a mad rush for presents, bath, sleep....so hardly any pictures got taken. But, Anna went to bed with a smile plastered on her face so it was definitely a memorable day!

Anna - Happy Birthday!  Here's to a wonderful new year of BEING 3. You are so loved!

(slapping my hand on the forehead!) We forgot to measure her height on her birthday. Two days later, she stands just a little bit shy of 36 inches. :)
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PS. I do want to give a shout-out to the Grandparents who took Anna out the Saturday before her birthday for lunch AND dinner. Both meals involved noodles.  It was a happy birthday indeed.
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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Recently / EGGS

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We boiled a bunch of eggs and dyed them last night. Prehaps we will try more advanced techniques when the kids are older, but for now, we simply drew on the eggs using some Sharpies and dyed them using a store-bought kit. Hubs was the artist, but Anna scribbled on a couple of them, too.  Although according to her, they were not just scribbles, but actually a butterfly and an earthworm from her recent favorite book, Bob and Otto.
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She was very excited about the whole thing. After the eggs were dry, I put a stack of Easter stickers in front of her and she LOVED decorating the eggs with them.

When it was all said and done, she couldn't stop playing with her eggs. She kept on picking them up, putting them down, and talking to them. Haha. So cute.
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Our family's 2013 Easter Eggs. :)
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Oh, lets not forget about Will! Poor guy didn't know what to do with himself. He sat at the table with us in the beginning, but wiggled himself down. Then he threw a fit because everyone else was at the table and he wanted to be involved. Finally, I just gave him an egg to hold and he was all smiles. And yes, that egg made it out safely. Whew.
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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

DIY Egg Shakers!

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I made these egg shakers to put in Anna and Will's Easter baskets. They turned out above average, so I thought I would post a quick tutorial.

Actually, I don't think a tutorial is necessary, the pictures explain it all.

First, I used the following supplies: mod podge, plastic eggs, magnetic tape (totally unnecessary, and only made the project harder...so SKIP IT), brush, tissue paper, rice, beans, and scissors.
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Fill the plastic eggs with either rice or beans and seal with magnetic tape.
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Cup the tissue paper into skinny strips and cover the eggs with them using mod podge.  This is where I realized that using BLACK magnetic tape was a bad idea. I had put on layers and layers of tissue paper to hide the black. I suggest using hot glue gun to seal the eggs or just skip it altogether.
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Eventually, once I got the technique down, it got easier and looked better. It still took a while.  I originally wanted to do 6, but ended up with 3. One I tossed away because it looked so bad and I left two naked

Whenever Will hears music, he picks up an instrument and starts marching around the table. I think he will enjoy these shakers very much. Overall, it was a good project and I am glad that there is something handmade in their baskets.
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And now onto the baskets!!

This is actually my first year putting together Easter baskets. I bought the baskets, grass, chalk & holder ($1 at Target), and Peeps, but used a lot what we already had in the house. Haha. In fact, the little activity book in Anna's basket was stolen from an Easter goody bag she received at school.  The cellephone bag in Will's basket is goldfish crackers.  The one in Anna's basket is bear-shaped chocolate graham crackers.
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Can't wait to hand them out on Easter! IMG_0407

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Anna's 3 Year Old Update

These pictures were taken on Anna’s 3rd birthday. There was a St. Patrick’s Day party at her school, which hubs and I, along with another mom, volunteered to do crafts with the kids and bring treats. We volunteered specifically for it because we thought it would be fun for Anna to see us at school on her special day.
Anna's Third Birthday
She finished that entire cupcake, not a crumb left.

For some reason, three seems like a big number and it really brings Anna out of toddler-ville and into her preschool years. Waaaaaahhh! My little girl is growing up so fast...!

Anyway, here is what's going on in her life:

Education

Anna seems to know all his uppercase and lowercase letters, and knows the phonic sounds to most letters. She has recently become interested in letter sounds. She says the word, isolates the first sound, and then tells me the letter it starts with. She says brainy stuff, like, “Dinner starts with a d, like dog.” She can identify simple words when we ask her base on the sounds.

She counts to 20, but skips a few in between (mostly 15, 16, and 17), and identifies 0-10.

She holds scissors correctly and can cut strips and all kinds of shapes. I know she does lots of cutting a school, but she often asks to cut at home, too. She also likes to watercolor, but because I don’t do at along with her, she loses interest pretty quickly.  She can draw people.

I have been getting Anna to do puzzles more. I want her to master it! But alas, as of right now, she can only do 24-piece puzzles completely on her own. My next goal is for her to do 48-piece puzzles, but that requires me sitting down with her and lots of patience. So far, it hasn’t happened yet.
Anna's Third Birthday
Making her rainbow bracelet.

Behavior / Temperament

Anna is at the stage where she likes to do things on her own terms. She doesn’t want to be told to come downstairs, go potty, get her outfit. The way around that is I give her warnings. I say things like, “Five more minutes and then come downstairs.” As long as I give her some kind of transition period, she is cool about it. But if a tantrum begins, threatening to take things away seems to work most of the time.

Sometimes when Anna gets mad, she will grab her Minnie doll and blanket and head upstairs to her room. I can’t believe a little 3 year old girl can be so moody already! This is the behavior we are trying to discourage. I know that if we just leave her alone, she will come around eventually. But I remember acting this way to my parents and staying in my room for the whole day as a teenager! Ha, definitely don’t want my daughter to act like I did!

The biggest thing happening in Anna's life is GOING TO SCHOOL. Teachers at school describe Anna as sweet, stubborn, strong-willed, tenacious, and "a tough nut to crack." She's having a hard time at school simply because she doesn't want to be there. But the most disappointing of all is that it doesn't seem to be getting better. We have tried everything (reasoning, ignoring, taking things away) and nothing is getting though her. She has a negative feeling toward school and playing with other kids and I have no idea where it is coming from. Anyone got a clue?

Right now, Anna has a very strong fussy personality. She's a tad spoiled - not about material things - but about wanting things exactly her way. If she doesn't get it, she whines and cries about it. She is annoyingly high-maintenance!  The "Thrilling Threes" is ringing true for us.

Deep down, though, she's still good kid. We are doing our best to work with her and her gigantic desire for automomy.  Hope she will come around soon.
Anna's Third Birthday
I don't want to end the post negatively so thinking through what Anna is doing lately, I have to admit, it really is a lot of fun, too! It’s so awesome to have actual conversations and to hear and see all the things she is able to say and do. She loves reading stories and dancing to music. She can be so tender and kind and has a serious love for her family. She loves to create imaginative play scenarios (often serving us bug cookies with tea) and she really is never bored. She relishes in simple things - such as walking around Target or playing in the park.  Yes, there are tantrums and moments of sheer preschool irrationality, but hanging around a three year old really is thrilling.

This is turning into a novel, but I am not quite done talking about my big 3 year old girl yet.  More later.

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Monday, March 18, 2013

Will - 16 Months Update

Will turned 16 months old last Friday! Here is what's going on in his toddler life:
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Transitioning to 1 Nap

Just after Will turned 15 months old, we pushed him to one nap a day. He was consistently skipping his afternoon nap, which meant that after he got up from his morning nap around 11:15a, he was awake until 7p (his bedtime). Crazy. So now we put him down for his one nap at 1p (same as Anna’s nap time) and it usually lasts about 2 hours. His bedtime is still 7p.

As long as he’s not in the car, he’s good at staying awake until 1p. But on the weekends, when we run around, he falls asleep in the car often, which messes up his nap. Like yesterday, I took the kids out for a playdate. We left their place at 11a and Will immediately fell asleep on the drive back. Although it was only an 8-minute drive, it was enough to disrupt his 1p naptime. Eventually he still went down, but not without a fight.

Eat

On the eating front, not much has changed since his 15-months update. The boy continues to love fruit – grapes, oranges, banana, kiwi, anything. For vegetables, he will eat broccoli and spinach and that’s about it. It’s a hit or miss with protein. Sometimes he eats lots of meat (chicken) and fish (salmon), sometimes he won’t touch it. I do know that he eats a lot better when he’s not confined to his booster seat. So a lot of times, I will feed him the “good stuff” on the floor, and then strap him down for macaroni.

Will still gets 4 bottles a day (200cc each). He doesn’t need bottles to fall asleep, but it’s more of a routine and to get more calories in him.

Talking

I am terrible at keeping track of words Will can say so I know this list is not complete, but from the top of my head, he says: mama, baba, nose, bye-bye, door, brush, throw, ball, wawa (water), and done. He repeats a bunch of other words after us, too. He also knows some Chinese words, such as horse, dog, and pig. When Anna was his age, she can follow simple commands, such as “throw the diaper in trash” or “go get a book.” When we say them to Will, sometimes he does it, sometimes not. So I am not sure if he completely understands.
Will - 16 Months

Temperament

Will is perfect to me. He’s happy, cuddly, playful, easy-going, independent. The list goes on! I remember Anna throwing tantrums already at this stage, but with Will, it’s hardly the case. Maybe it’s because he’s used to his sister taking stuff away from him, but when we tell him “no,” he has no problems moving onto something else. Just this morning, after playing with the Kindle for a while, I told him, “all done” and took it away. He acted like nothing happened.

So in our family, the girl is the sensitive, moody one, but the boy is happy, go-with-the-flow type. I wonder if that’s just their personalities, or it has something to do with their birth order?
Will - 16 Months
Will - 16 Months

But there is more!

Will started walking in the late fall/early winter, and because we just tend to stay at home more during the winter months, he really hasn’t had any opportunities to walk outside. Haha, he has an irrational fear of grass and when he was surrounded by snow earlier this month, he didn’t want to move an inch. When the weather warms up, I cannot wait to let him run around outside more. Last year, he was still a tiny baby, so all the summer activities I have planned are all going to be a great new experience for him.
Will - 16 Months

My favorite time of the day with Will is in the early morning, after I feed and change him, I let him run around in our bedroom while I get ready for work. When he sees me brush my teeth, he skips on over, holds out his hand, and says brush. I hand him his brush, and he lets out the biggest smile. Then he proceeds to chew on his brush while dancing in front of the mirror.

- Will likes to scream. He puts his whole body into it and loves it when we scream with him.
- He likes to run in circles with his sister.
- He has favorite books – the Chinese animal safari book, the touch-and-feel books, and those recordable books.
- When he sees food and isn’t getting a piece of it, he fusses. It’s the only time he would even fuss.
- He scribbles with markers.
- He can put food into his mouth with a spoon. 20% of the time.
- He fell down the stairs this month. Just maybe 5-6 steps high. Fortunately, no injuries!
- He brings Pesto’s treat bag over to us, but when we give him one to feed the dog, he backs away.

Will - 16 Months
Will - 16 Months

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Anna's 3rd Birthday: Waking Up to Balloons!

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How can it be? This girl is 3 years old! Here she is - about to dig into her cake!

Anna requested no party this year, which took the stress off me, but I still wanted to surprise her with something special on her birthday. So the night before the big day, while hubs assembled the cakes, I blew up some pink and purple balloons.
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Then, the next morning, at the crack of dawn, before her usual wake-up time, I tip-toed around and covered her bedroom floor with the balloons. I also hung some streamers up on her doorway.

PS. The reason why I didn’t put the balloons in her room the night before was because I was afraid she might wake up in the middle of the night and cause a commotion.

She woke up and found me standing next to her bed, telling her "Happy Birthday!" and to look around. She was confused...
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but then a smile broke out and she jumped right into the balloons!  She was just so darn happy. I knew it was a success.
Anna's Third Birthday
Anna's Third Birthday
Anna's Third Birthday
Then she just sat there and didn't want to move when we told her it was time to get dressed.

So this was how Anna's 3rd birthday started, but, of course, there is more.  To be continued.

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

"Whee! Anna is 3!" Gift Bags

I made these gift bags for Anna to hand out at school on her birthday. I am very happy with how they turned out. It was more expensive (a bit less than $4/bag) than what I had intended to spend, but the watercolor alone was almost $2.
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watercolor + Play-Doh (small 1 oz can)

We bought these small canvas tote bags (price had gone up since then) and personalized them using a stencil, fabric paint, and a stiff brush. We were going for the LL Bean-ish look.
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Since each was done by hand individually, some turned out better than others. My only tip - don't use too much paint.
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Then using Photoshop, I created a simple tag using my favorite font (Sketch Rockwell), printed on cardstock, and spruced it up with some watercolor paints. So easy. I think I am going to use this method more often from now on.
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Once everything was dry, I hole-punched the tags and tied them to the bags with ribbons.
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Ta-da!
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Monday, March 11, 2013

Almost 3: Wonky Mushrooms

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.
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Yesterday we were playing outside with chalk and Anna exclaimed that she was drawing a person!

She drew a circle head, a body, two eyes, hair, and a mouth. On one occassion, she even drew some arms.

She explained it all right here:

(It looked a bit like a mushroom to me.)

But I was like, - Oh WOW! Anna can draw a person!

She went ahead and drew a bunch of people on our driveway.
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I think it's pretty cool that she's moving away from scribbles to drawing "real things!"

(And yes, someone is about to celebrate a birthday around here.)

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