Thursday, April 30, 2015

ordinary days

I keep wanting to blog about SOMETHING, but the days seem to meander along, busy with life's little moments but nothing monumental - no new places or events. But because I don't like going too long without updating my beloved blog, I thought I would quickly share two pictures, taken yesterday evening after the dinner hustle. In the winter, our long driveway means a lot of snow shoveling (for Luke), but we love it in the spring. The kids roam safely and free, giggling and laughing and making up silly games. I like it when they get all dirty and sweaty and tired and all we have to do is head upstairs for a bath before wrapping it all up for the night. It's the best :)
Property of mom!!  😊
You can't read his shirt, but it says, "PROPERTY OF MOM" :)

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

My Afternoon/Evening Schedule as a WOHM (w/ a 5 year old girl and a 3.5 year old boy)

Here is the rest of my day as a WOHM….read about my morning here.

Assuming that Luke picks up the kids, I get home around 4:40pm, sometimes even earlier. If he's traveling/busy, then the kids and I don't get home until after 5pm.

4:40pm – I arrive home. Luke gets home with the kiddos 5 minutes before or after me. So basically, the whole family gets home around the same time!

4:45 – 5:15pm – I cook dinner while the kids play (when the weather is beautiful, the kids play outside while Luke keeps watch). I cook very simple dinners, more or less the same every week. I really need to add more variety, but the kids eat what I cook so why rock the boat? Just before dinner, I get them to potty and wash hands.
5:15 – 5:40pm – Dinner is served for the kids around 5:15pm, while I tidy up the kitchen. Then Luke and I join them in the middle of it. Nowadays, the kids eat relatively well and dinner time is mostly pleasant. After the kids are done, I grab fruit from the fridge. Lately they are crazy for those sweet seedless clementine. Last night, we had fresh mango and they loved that too.

5:40 – 6:00pm – The adults finish eating and clean up (wash dishes, wipe table, clean kitchen, pack the leftovers) while the kids entertain themselves with various things. We either hear laughter or sibling spats. "Anna, you are so bad to me!" "Mama, Will is not sharing!" *SIGH*

6:00 – 6:45pm – This is free time. We hang out as a family. During this time I have Anna read me a phonetics book from school. The kids might draw. Or we might have a show on. It all depends on how tired we are, how well the kids are behaving. Since Anna doesn’t get to nap at school, she is really tired around this time, so we might make it an early night.
6:45 – 7:10pm – I shower with Anna and Luke showers with Will. I get out first, get Anna dressed. By then Will shows up in our bathroom and I get him dressed. The kids run to get books.

7:10-7:25pm – By now I am just about done for the night so we read two SHORT stories. Then Anna goes potty one last time and off to bed. I give them "silly hugs" and "silly kisses" and go through the same motion each night: "Yes, I will leave the door light on!", "Yes, I will pick you up at 7!", "I am going downstairs now so don't bother me!", "Love you Anna!", "Love you Will!"
7:30pm - Finally, real free time starts. I might prep for a blog post, sometimes I might even cook stuff for the next day, but most likely, I join Luke on the couch for a show. We just finished watching Love Me Or Leave Me last night.

Then by 9:30pm, we head upstairs. I take Anna potty one last time before I go to bed. Since we don't have Pesto anymore, bedtime for us is a lot more flexible. We browse on the tablets for a bit and another day is done!

Read more about my schedules:
As a SAHM to a 5 month old
As a Working Mom to a 11 month old
As a Working Mom to a 16.5 month old
As a SAHM to a 22.5 month old and a 2.5 month old
As a Working Mom to a 3.5 year old and a 22 month old (morning)
As a Working Mom to a 3.5 year old and a 22 month old (afternoon/evening)
As a Working Mom to a 4.5 year old and a 2.75 year old (morning)
As a Working Mom to a 4.5 year old and a 2.75 year old (afternoon/evening) 
As a Working Mom to a 5 year old and a 3.5 year old (morning)

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, April 20, 2015

the best day ever at Frying Pan Farm Park

What a great day we had at the farm!

There was a bunch of new baby animals born just recently and we saw them all: piglets, lambs, and kids! All so very very cute. 
We browsed the country store...
and Grandma got the kids ice cream to eat on the porch.
The $3 wagon ride took us into the woods and other parts of the farm.
Then there was the playground.
And tractors to ride on.
Overall, super fun day for the kids with their grandparents!
This outing basically solidified my love and appreciation for local parks. We ended up having a picnic lunch behind the Visitor Center (didn't even know there was one until this trip! the staff member was super friendly!) and spending close to 3 hours at the farm. Is there anything better than a morning of FREE (well, nearly-free, but ice cream and wagon rides were nice extras) family fun, less than 25 minutes away from home?
Nothing in my book :)

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Friday, April 17, 2015

My Morning Schedule as a WOHM (w/ a 5 year old girl and a 3.5 year old boy)

It has been over a year since we lost Grandma-care and both kids have to be out of the door in the morning. Honestly? It’s going very well! We have got the routine down to a science and I am very happy with our current morning schedule.

(Anna is 5 years old and Will is 3 and half.)

6:30 - 6:55am – I either wake up naturally on my own or by Will, who rushes over to “mama bed” as soon as the toddler clock turns green. We chat and snuggle and it is just the best. About 5 minutes later, I go get Anna. I gently wake her up and bring her over. Then we all snuggle some more. Another highlight of the morning :) Luke might be there (browsing) or he might be in the basement (exercising).

6:55 – 7:10am - I get out of bed and tell the kids to go potty and get their clothes. They usually come back with half of an outfit (like shirt, but no pants), so I go to the kids’ room to get the missing pieces. They potty and I help get them dressed. Then they are off playing/fighting/doing whatever they want. I start getting ready myself.

7:10 – 7:20am – I finish getting myself ready (brush teeth, hair, makeup, clothes) and go to the kids’ room to fix their beds. I tidy up "mama room" a bit. I take their breakfast orders and scramble downstairs.

7:20 – 7:35am – My multi-tasking skills go on overdrive. I immediately put 1 pot and 1 skillet on the stove. The pot is to boil water (to warm up Anna’s lunch thermos) and the skillet is to make breakfast. The kids have been eating the same breakfast for over a year now :) This morning, Anna said, "Mama, you make the best egg sandwich ever." :) I fill up various cups and bottles (straw cups, Anna’s school bottle, Luke’s bottle) with water and prep chocolate milk (for kids and me). I lay out the kids’ breakfast before calling them to the table. Then I cook Anna's lunch for school and prep my own lunch in the meantime.
7:35 – 7:50am – Kids are eating now, but I am still busy in the kitchen. After the lunches (mine and Anna’s) are packed, I clean up the kitchen and wipe it down. Then I sit down for a bowl of cereal.
7:50 – 8:20am – TV time for the kids! They get one episode of a show that they are currently into and I feed them yogurt. Yes, we haven’t broken that habit yet. I wipe their faces, put on their socks, fix Anna’s hair, and other random things to make sure we are all ready to leave the house. I make sure that Anna has the toy that she wants to bring to school in her backpack.

8:20 – 8:30am
– We get ready to head out. Potty. Shoes. Coats. Last hugs & kisses & "have a good day!" and they are out of the door with hubs. Lately whenever Luke isn’t traveling, he has been dropping off AND picking up the kids. Such a time saver for me. After they leave, I grab my bags and keys and off to work.
By 8:35am
– At work. My short commute is priceless.

Luke makes two stops to drop off the kids. Will's school starts at 9am with drop-off begin at 8:40ish. He's always the first kid there. Anna's school starts as early as 7am with before-school care, but she arrives at around 8:45am.

We are lucky that Luke works from home and I have a short commute, but how do you do it if you have a long commute? I can't even imagine.

Read more about my schedules:
As a SAHM to a 5 month old
As a Working Mom to a 11 month old
As a Working Mom to a 16.5 month old
As a SAHM to a 22.5 month old and a 2.5 month old
As a Working Mom to a 3.5 year old and a 22 month old (morning)
As a Working Mom to a 3.5 year old and a 22 month old (afternoon/evening)
As a Working Mom to a 4.5 year old and a 2.75 year old (morning)
As a Working Mom to a 4.5 year old and a 2.75 year old (afternoon/evening)

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

thursday morning catch ups.

/1/ I said I was going to do it and I did it. It was a big task, but I finally put all my 4x6s in chronological order! Hooray! All the kid years are present and accounted for. It feels sooo good to have it done. Now that all the pictures are sorted (my little old blog helped a ton with the dates), I noticed that I don’t have many pictures of baby/toddler Anna printed out. So before I can stuff the pictures in albums, I have to print out some more pictures. At least the ones I have now are in order.

/2/ Of all the seeds we planted a couple of weeks ago, only 3 sprouted. Bummer. So we made a run to Home Depot this past weekend and picked up a few potted herbs. In the past years, we always planted them too close and it stunted their growth. This year, we are giving each plant more wiggle room to grow. Hoping for another bountiful year!
/3/ Lately after the kids are tucked in bed, Luke and I park ourselves in front of the TV for this Taiwanese drama. Each episode is almost 2 hours long, so it’s like watching a movie every night. It's fun for me to watch - love the Yi Ren and Sheng Hua storyline :) - but Luke thinks the whole show is nonsensical (most Taiwanese drama shows are, I have to admit). He still watches it with me though.

/4/ Speaking of movie, Luke took Anna to her very first movie theater experience on Good Friday. Their movie of choice was Cinderalla. Anna was so excited and asked every day, “Is it Friday yet?” when we told her about the plan. Luke went all out and splurged for popcorn (geeze, $9!). I don’t remember ever having popcorn when we go to the movies together… Anyway, the movie was good. At least that was the report that I got. Now Will can't wait until he turns 5.

/5/ Anna is all registered for kindergarten. I went in last week and submitted all the paperwork. The administrative lady I talked to was so nice and the principal even came and introduced himself. I am looking forward in getting involved as much as I possibly can, even with my 40-hour work schedule.
/6/ Oh, this one is a biggie. We finally bite the bullet and hired a cleaning service! Last Friday was the initial clean and it turned out that everyone was right, there is nothing quite like walking into a clean home. OUR STOVE IS SPARKLING! Right now we are signed up for a clean every 4 weeks. My reasoning? Because we don’t accumulate enough mess to warrant a biweekly clean. Ha, even though I am spending money, I am still going to be cheap about it.

/7/ We said we wouldn't go to Disney World for a while after last year’s trip. Well, we are keeping our words, so we are going to DisneyLAND instead. The countdown is ON.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, April 13, 2015

it's the most beautiful time of the year (& a meetup!)

The time has come for the annual viewing of the cherry blossoms!

Although trees along the Tidal Basin in DC were at peak, over at Meadowlark Gardens this past Sunday, we were probably a couple of days too early -- most trees still had tight buds, but there WERE a few with full blossoms.
The weeping cherry trees around the lake were my favorite.
I usually take a bajillion pictures, but this time I was too busy chatting with my blogging friend (nice to finally meet you, Lisa!) to be bothered with that. I am glad hubs came along or I might have lost a kid or two :) Just before we left, we attempted to take a group shot (minus hubs) with everyone looking at the camera, but I actually like this candid shot more:
The kids had lots of fun running around. I enjoyed getting to know Lisa. Although I feel like I have known her a long time already from reading her blog. Anyway, warm sunshine + beautiful scenery + good company = a great outing! :)

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Friday, April 10, 2015

happiness has arrived.

Just want to share with you my latest photo book! Hawaii!!
Almost two years ago, we packed up the kids and flew to Maui for my brother's wedding. It was the biggest trip we had ever taken as a family and it cost us a pretty penny...yet, we got nothing to show for except a folder titled "Hawaii 2013" on my computer. So happy that is no longer the case! Now we have something that we can hold and flip through and re-live the memories (haha, the good, the bad and the ugly).
As always, I got an 8x8 hard cover book from Shutterfly. Shutterfly makes it so easy -- I just love all the layout and design options available. And the quality of the book itself is amazing.

For my photo books, I like the “big and multi” combo. I save the big photo for my favorite and then the multi tells more of a story. The pages below are of our visit to the famous Old Lahaina Luau. I like this picture on the left of hubs and me, with the sun setting behind us. Then the other page has pictures from the rest of the evening.
Since we were there for my brother's wedding, I have a two page spread on that. Again, another "big and multi" combo.
I also like to keep the books fun and real. No glamor shots here, but I adore those pictures of 18-month old Will below. It was so tough for all of us to adjust to the different time zone. The kids woke up BEFORE the crack of dawn and by 11 in the morning, they were always pooped. One day at lunch, Will literally fell asleep in his high chair in the middle of chewing. We had such a good laugh. Fun memory :)
For a typical spread, I try to use photos taken on the same day. It makes the pages tie together. In this case, all these pictures were taken on Mother's Day, which was spent between the pool and the beach.
This book (40 pages) actually turned out more expensive than I had wanted to spend. Shipping was a killer, but I think I could've done a better job of picking the page layout to really pack the pictures in. For example, the spread below, with two big Will pictures, is probably an overkill. I always feel that Will pictures show up less frequently than Anna pictures, so I was just trying to make up for it I guess!
Overall, I am really happy with the book. I am in the middle of working another one. Go me!

On another note, recently I came across a promotion -- 101 free prints -- so of course I snatched that deal. The prints are still on their way to me, but once they arrive, I think I am finally going to clear my afternoon and organize my junk photo drawer (there are over 1000 pics in there) and stuff them in albums chronologically.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Easter things #1-4

1. This year, by the time I realized that registration for local egg hunts was already open, I was way too late. I couldn’t believe it...not a spot left…this was back in early March too!

Since we swore off those massive free ones, it was up to me to create an Easter egg hunt at home. At first I was disappointed that the kids would be missing out on an organized event, but our front yard egg hunt turned out to be successful so it worked out okay. Bonus that we didn't have to drive anywhere. Or spend any money.

Kids were so excited. All morning Will asked me when we were going to hunt for eggs.
The little egg hunt I did for the kids was really simple and I didn't spend a cent buying anything new from the Easter aisle. I filled about 50 plastic eggs (that I already had) with Zinkies (a never-opened Christmas present from Luke’s sister years ago), Starburst (from Valentine's Day), and quarters (from my car and wallet).
The two of them raced to get as many eggs as possible, haha. Very fun to watch!
Back home, they loved opening their eggs and I loved that they didn't bring any more junk home. The quarters went straight into their piggy banks. The candies went back to the candy jar. The plastic eggs and baskets are back in the basement. Clutter free and mess free. Well, except the Zinkies. They are all over our living room as I type.

2. Of course I also filled up their baskets with goodies. I spent around $8 on Anna’s and even less on Will’s. The goodies included egg puffy stickers, a small kit of Lego Friends, eggs with gummies inside, hair ties, TMNT stickers, sidewalk chalk, and most importantly, marshmallow Peeps. I put these baskets together last minute. Next year though, I am planning ahead. We have a set of bunny chopsticks coming for Will that would have been perfect for the basket...but alas, it won't be here till this week.
Anna put together her newest Lego set with very little assistance from me. It was a small set, perfect for her to follow the booklet instructions.
3. Here is something new we did this year and the kids went crazy excited about it. On the eve of Easter, we “planted” jelly beans out in our herb garden and waited for the Easter bunny to work his magic overnight.
In the morning, the crowd went wild when they found in each of the spots where there was previously a jelly bean, there was now a lollipop popping out of it! I told them this only happens on Easter :) I think they bought it? Ah, the innocence of childhood is so precious...
Will only planted 1 jelly bean so he got 1, but Anna got 3! "Will, next year if you want more lollipops, you need to plant more jelly beans," she said. These heart-shaped lollipops were also leftovers from Valentine's Day.
4. Lastly, dyeing eggs! We did it on a random weeknight using a kit. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Anna has been using that phrase a lot and it's stuck in my head.
Our 2015 family Easter eggs :) The kids did it all.
Did you all have a nice Easter weekend? We are not religious, but it was fun to participate in the non-religious side of Easter!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Preserving Memories, Part 2

April Fool's Day! The kids thought their mom's silly joke was just okay. Oh well :) 

Speaking of preserving memories with photo books, I thought I would share two additional ways I am doing to bottle up time:

Memory Box – I have a big cardboard box and I keep a myriad of stuff in there. Ultrasound pictures, hospital bracelets, birthday cards, sentimental art projects (ones with their hand prints), school report cards and pictures, and so on. It’s not organized, I just throw things in there that I think might be cool for them to have someday. It’s like a capsule.

Personal Blog - I have been blogging for 8 years now. I remember when it was at the peak of its popularity and everyone blogged, then Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram came along, and short status updates seemed to trump the lengthiness of blogging. For me, I still prefer blogging more than anything else and try to keep up with it as much as possible, mainly for myself, but also for my children. As the kids grow, I won’t be writing about them specifically, but it is still fun to write about our travels, local outings, and everyday life. It’s our family journal. Maybe I will turn it into a book one day?

Are you big on preserving memories? How do you do it?

(Enter to win a free hard cover 8x8 photo book from Shutterfly! Click here to leave a comment and I will randomly draw a winner this Friday, 4/3.)

[+/-] Extra Sugar!