Monday, July 27, 2015

monday morning catch ups. (our weekend)

/1/ These "catch up" posts are becoming a norm. I like them because they are easy to write and they capture life snippets that wouldn't have otherwise made it to the blog. So here is this Monday's edition, welcome!

/2/ We went to a new-to-us place on Friday night - the Plaza at Tysons Corner :) This new discovery is practically in our backyard (ok, a 5-minute drive) and is basically a fun, lively pedestrian walkway that connects the new silver line metro to the mall. The kids each had a coupon for a free custard at Shake Shack (located at the Plaza), so after dinner at TGI Friday's, off we went. The custard turned out to be so-so (not sure what the hype is all about?), but the Plaza itself was pretty cool. We happily discovered a playground, ping pong table, corn hole, jumbo chess, and a little area to dip their feet. Or in Anna's case, her entire butt.
We will be sure to return whenever we go to the mall now :)
/3/ Every so often, Luke likes to go to EC Lawrence Park. There is a pond there (not pictured) where he can grab some plants for the fish tanks at home. This time when we went, we also took the kids to the creek nearby. The highlight of the excursion was when hubs caught a small tiny catfish. The kids oooh'ed and ahhh'ed over it. Haha, so did Luke.
"I wish I could take him home."
We also walked a little stretch of the trail in the park and saw this hollow tree. I made the kids pose in front of it.
/4/ We have been going to Clemyjontri since Anna could walk. This Sunday when we went, looking around, I think Anna was one of the oldest there. Maybe the older kids are on a different schedule, like Luke said, but I can't help but feel that Anna will soon outgrow this place. As they the blink of an eye....::insert all the sad emojis::
Thanks to my mom's county employment status, we get free tokens to ride on the carousel so it's a must-do for us whenever we visit the "rainbow park." Click here for Anna's very first carousel ride, LOL.

/5/ Other things from the weekend:
- back to school shopping...kindergarten, here we come!
- a fresh stack of books from the library
- two big grocery shopping trips to load up the fridge
- reading this book and feeling really inadequate
- new fruit bowl from TJMaxx. Will found it.
- Sunday night dinner from China King -- "Mama didn't have to cook tonight!"
- kids enjoying themselves at a nearby neighborhood park, another discovery
- new haircut for Will

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, July 20, 2015

monday morning catch ups.

/1/ Have you ever kept on watching a show because you have invested so much time in it that you just HAVE to finish? That's how I feel about this latest Taiwanese drama I am watching - Dear Mom. This is one of those shows that's so slow-moving and full of nonsense that I bet even if I skip a few episodes, I won't miss anything significant. Haha, Luke can testify. I am tempted to just watch the last episode to see how it all turn out, but of course, I won't :) However, just to make sure I don't waste too much time, I do do something that I consider productive while watching, like make a photo book, blog, or reserve library books for the kids.

/2/ This Sunday was hot hot HOT! Even though we were at the tennis court by 9 in the morning, after 20 minutes of chasing tennis balls, both kids were completely drenched in sweat.
On another note, recently, Luke decided to start playing tennis with the kids. We got them kids rackets and, just today, kids tennis balls. They do OK for total beginners. I will say they can actually hit the ball 50% of the time. They seem to enjoy it though, so maybe this is a new activity we can do as a family.  

/3/ After we came home from tennis, Luke found their inflatable pool and filled it up with water. The kids then proceeded to have all sort of crazy fun in the screen-in porch for the next two hours. There were lots of laughter, silliness, and creative play -- very fun for the adults to watch while sitting on the couch inside our air-conditioned home. It definitely beat going anywhere outside in the heat!
/4/ Now that the kids play so well together and we are mostly hands-off, I will have moments in the day which I literally have NOTHING TO DO. For now, whenever I have those moments, I like to play the piano. I only took lessons for two and half years and honestly don't remember much of it, but the most basic I can still do. Yesterday I found one of my old recital programs (from 1993!) and it looked like I played Fur Elise... So of course, I dug up the sheet music and pretty much butchered my way through this Beethoven classic, but I can see myself improving with more practice.

/5/ This is a pretty short "catch ups" post because really not much is going on with our family. But I don't want to go silent for too long either since I know when I look back on the blog, I will think, "Hey, whatever happened to July 2015?" Well, just for the record, we are spending lots of time just being home this summer. I will also say that this summer the kids have been getting along fantastically, growing closer. Maybe going to the same summer program has increase their sibling bond? Either way, it has left me with more free time than I have ever had since becoming a mom.   

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Friday, July 17, 2015

newest in my photo book collection

One day last week I stayed up late to make a photo book for our most recent Williamsburg vacation. It only took me ~2 hours from start to finish since I only had 5 days worth of pictures to go through. This is exactly the reason why I choose to make "vacation" photo books instead of "yearly" photo books. It's just easier for me to manage. And I know that if I want something done, I need to make it as easy as possible for myself.

(For photos that are taken during the rest of the year, I just print them in 4x6s and stuff them in albums.)

Anyway, time for some show and tell :)

For this photo book, I tried layouts that spread across two pages and it didn't work out as I expected, as you can see below. The problem can be fixed with Shuttefly's "layflat" option for a seamless display, but that's a premium option that cost extra.
Another way to fix the problem is to just use pictures that are OK to be cut off, like this one.
Here is another bad one. I took a picture of hubs, Anna, and Will at the beach in Jamestown, but Will's little body is lost between the two pages.
I love this layout for all the miscellaneous pictures.
I had a free promotion code for the book so it was free, but shipping was $8. It's definitely cheaper to just print out the pictures individually, but I love that books are more storytelling and that is worth it for me.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

summer time is FUN time!

This summer is swooshing by too fast.
it's western round up week at school
I can't believe the summer program that the kids are attending is almost half way over. It has been awesome and they are both happy to go to school each day. So far, the weekly themes have been Animal Planet, Space is the Place, America the Beautiful (which we missed because of Williamsburg), and Moovin & Groovin & Disco Days.

This week is Western Round-Up and you can see Anna's little cute artwork above. I love that picture of her in jail too, haha. Each Thursday is Party Day! and that really just means extra fun. Like tomorrow, in addition to a special lunch of hot dogs, chips, and watermelon, the school is bringing in real ponies for pony rides. How fun is that?! I am sure there are lots of  amazing summer programs/camps out there, but this one is perfect for us.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Williamsburg Vacation 2015: Top 8 Memories

Memory #1: One late afternoon we went to Colonial Williamsburg to walk around. It was a hot day, but the kids marched on without much of a complaint. As always we stopped by Baskin-Robbins for some frozen treats to cool off. Then it was off for a campus visit at the College of William and Mary. We even went inside a classroom.
The kids and I in front of the oldest building at W&M, the Wren Building. Apparently it is the the oldest college building still standing in the US? As we walked, we saw two guys, one without a shirt and shoes. And Will was quick to point it out and thought that was sooo funny, haha. We talked to the kids about attending colleges, but Anna remained unconvinced. She would rather "stay home with Mama."
Memory #2: Yorktown beach was a lot of fun for the kids. We went on a Tuesday morning and had the whole stretch of sand to ourselves. The kids played with their beach toys and then eventually went out for a swim. Such wonderful time they had! Unfortunately, the party ended early when Luke, while swimming further out by himself, got stung by some jellyfish.
This is a pretty yucky picture and I debated whether or not to post it here, but it's all part of the story, I suppose! According to Luke, his forearm remained painful (intermittent sharp stabbing pain that came without warning) for the rest of the day and he also felt nauseous and had a bad headache. Luckily, we didn't have to make a trip to the hospital or anything. Even luckier that it didn't happen to the kids. I can't even imagine.
Memory #3: Even just hanging out around the resort was a good time. We ate ice cream, kids loved the playground, Luke caught a firefly, and after the sun finally went down, we explored the resort ground using flashlights.
Unfortunately, all we did with the flashlights was shining the light on the walk path to make sure we didn't step on (goose) poop. Anna said as we wrapped up, "We didn't see anything, all we saw was POOP!"
Memory #4: Jamestown Beach Event Park was a new discovery for our family this year. For those that are interested, it is a good alternative to Yorktown beach, but without the manicured riverfront shops. Instead it's got BBQ grills, plenty of picnic tables, and a small concession stand for cold drinks, snacks, and ice cream. More for the locals, I think. We liked writing/drawing in the sand, searching for seashells, and running up and down the pier.   
Memory #5: Will had his first movie theater experience (Anna's second) in Williamsburg! We saw the newest Pixar movie, Inside Out. We sat down in our seats with 15 minutes until showtime and then it was another ~15 minutes to watch all the previews. When the movie FINALLY started, I think Will was already restless. We still watched the entire thing, but not without Will bouncing up and down his seat and climbing all over me. Anna, on the other hand, I don't think her eyes ever blinked.
Memory #6: The pool! We actually only went to the pool twice...bummer. It took Will a little bit of time to warm up after a long hiatus (last time in the pool was 11/2014), but he eventually did and doggie paddled happily. Anna needed no warm-up time. She jumped right in and was so pleased with her new kickboard.
Memory #7: This kids were in screen time heaven. Nearly unlimited. 
Memory #8: We really hardly ever eat the American version of Chinese food at home, but when in Williamsburg, that's our go-to place. We found New China yummy and cheap (loved their lunch specials!). We ordered from here THREE times!
Now We Need a Summary:

Fave: Yorktown beach (watching the kids having fun) and eating Chinese food
Yuck: All that screen time the kids had. Oy.

Fave: Everything except the mini golf
Yuck: Mini golf (I am surprised he didn't say jellyfish???)

ANNA (age 5)
Fave: beach, swimming, eating pizza, Inside Out
Yuck: "I liked the volcano song, but didn't like when the volcano went into the water and then back up."  (Clarification: She was referring to the Pixar short film in the previews.)

WILL (age 3 and 1/2)
Fave: beach
Yuck: "The volcano song in the movie. It was too loud."

I had COMPLETELY forgotten about the volcano song. I had to ask Luke, "Was there a volcano song in the movie?" Gosh, kids have great memories!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, July 6, 2015

monday morning catch ups.

/1/ We are back from vacation! It's always sad when vacations come to an end, but the good thing about Williamsburg is that we will always be back. Will is so funny. He thinks of "Williamsburg" only as our resort. Whenever we went out exploring, he would be like, "Are we going back to Williamsburg later?" Made me laugh each time, "No Will, we are still IN Williamsburg!" Anyway, the kids enjoyed the vacation very much, as did we. The Historic Powhatan Resort was great, and we might make it our go-to place to stay whenever we vacation at Williamsburg now! More pictures to come, of course.
/2/ We have been reading a lot and finished another summer reading program. In exchange for reading 16 books, the kids each received a coupon booklet from the library. We already redeemed the free ice cream cone from McDonald's and I hope to take the kids to a waterpark or two using some of the coupons inside.
/3/ Of all the books we read, this one is worth mentioning. The kids went from, "This book has no pictures, I don't want to read a book with no pictures!" to "Lets read The Book With No Pictures again!" It really cracked them up and we highly recommend it.
/4/ For months I tried signing the kids up for the free monthly Home Depot Kids Workshop, but every month by the time I remembered to do it, the workshop closest to us would already be full. By some kind of miracle, I was not too late for the latest workshop -- building a Minion scooter -- so I secured two spots for Anna and Will. The event was this past Saturday and this is what I learned. It turned out I didn't really have to reserve online, it was first come first serve, and I still had to fill out a form even though I had already done it online. And good thing we were one of the firsts to show up because IT WAS PACKED. The Home Depot we were at was also disorganized. Long story short is that we were supposed to paint the wood before construction, but they didn't give out the paint until the end. Conclusion: I was not impressed and doubt that we will be doing this again.

For those who are interested, it is possible to just grab the kit and do the assembly at home. However, Luke pointed out that you would have to clean up your own mess at home.

/5/ So up until now, I have enrolled the kids in zero activities. Since we are working parents, I don't believe in chauffeuring the kids to activities after work (traffic nightmare) and I am protective of our precious weekend family time. But this summer, on a trial basis, I am having a piano teacher come to our house to give Anna piano lesson on Saturday mornings. It's $25 for half hour lesson. Yowzers, right? But I've done my research and apparently, this is actually not too bad. Anyway, the teacher is very nice older lady, plays at a church. She said Anna is on the young side (she suggests starting at age 6), but will give it a try for ~2 months. If Anna shows potential, we will continue on with the lessons in the fall. I would love for her to start young, but I don't want to waste money either, so we will see.
/6/ The kids complained that they were bored, so I put them to work. My basil plants were going bonkers (read: I have an oversupply of them) so hubs decided to cut off some branches completely. I gave the kids the task of plucking the leaves. Haha, I felt like they were little laborers working at a factory, especially with Will sitting on a stool. Now the question of the day is: What am I going to do with all those basil?

/7/ Back when I was pregnant with Will, I asked a very wise coworker how she raised her two sons, who seemed like very well-rounded young adults. She said that when her boys were young, they didn't like to go out so the family just stayed home and read a lot. Nowadays, I try to keep that in mind whenever we are just sitting at home, doing nothing in particular. Like yesterday. Except for the basil task above, the kids provided their own self entertainment ("I am going to smell your butt, puahahaha!"), ALL DAY. Ivy League, here we come :)

[+/-] Extra Sugar!