Wednesday, October 28, 2015

two months of kindergarten.

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This Friday is the end of first grading period for Anna. I can’t believe she's almost 25% done with her kindergarten year...4.16% through her elementary school years. Whoa.

I thought I would give a little update on her school life:

- Anna’s school officially starts at 9:20a and ends at 4:05p. I typically drop her off just before 8 at before-care. This means, she’s at school for about 8 hours a day. It’s a long day, but Anna handles it well. It hasn’t been a huge adjustment for her because she already attended full day school last year.

- She’s continuing to enjoy before-care. It's great to be able to drop her off and see her run along happily to play with other kids. At $175 a month, this before-care is a steal. It even includes a whole day of care on teachers’ workdays with no extra fees. I am so glad we got a spot just before school started. There is also after-care, but I get off work just in time to pick her up at the end of school day.

- There are 23 kids in her kindergarten class, with 2 teachers.

- Of all the “special” classes, she likes art the best. PE the least. I personally like library days because I like seeing the books she picks to take home. Along the same line, pulling out the yellow “home folder” from Anna’s backpack at the end of the day is a delight. Worksheets and school/PTA announcements galore! I love it.

- The first time Anna threw up (a normal occurrence for her, unfortunately) at school, her teachers freaked out and sent her straight to the clinic. The school nurse called me frantically, “Anna threw up at school….when can you come pick her up!?” I had to calm her down and explain to her that Anna just has a very sensitive gag reflex (something I already noted on her school health form) and she’s not actually sick. Now that the school knows about this, the second time she threw up, I received this voicemail, “Everything is okay! I just needed to tell you that Anna threw up after lunch. We gave her some water and she’s fine! She’s back in her classroom now.” 

- I pack Anna’s school lunch every day. It’s always pasta, chips or crackers, and fruit. She’s content to have that every. single. day. and it makes my job very easy. I include a lunch note (although “Have a good day! See you after school!” is getting boring….do you have any suggestions for me?) in her lunch bag and she’s thrilled with that. The other day she mentioned that she wants to buy school lunch sometime so maybe we will start that soon.

- So far, Luke and I have gone to eat with Anna in the cafeteria once. It was a lot of fun to sit with her and her classmates. We probably disrupted the routine a bit for the teachers, but Anna enjoyed it and already asked us many times to go back again soon. The original plan was to do it once a month, but seeing that this month is ending soon, we will probably make it every two months instead.

- There are many opportunities to be involved. Luke is assisting in the classroom this Friday for Pumpkin Day (haha, I signed him up). Then we are both volunteering for International Day in November. I didn't volunteer to volunteer for her first school field trip, but probably will next time.

- We don’t have any scheduled outside activities on the weekdays and I am really happy about that. Except for practicing piano for a max of 15 minutes, when she gets home, it’s all playtime for her. Bedtime is ~7:30p and she falls asleep almost immediately.

- We had our first parent teacher conference and here is the gist of it: Anna is doing very well at school. She recently got assessed at reading and the way the teacher explained it to me is that Anna is already at where they want kindergarteners to be at the end of the school year. Great news to hear! At home, the teacher suggested, we can just keep on reading to her daily and ask questions to make sure she’s comprehending what we are reading. She writes well, math is good, behavior is great, just a tad emotional and on the sensitive side (to which I responded that she has come a looooong way already). Overall, the teacher is happy and I am happy.

- The only thing I wasn’t happy about was the dismissal procedure. It seemed to me that there was a long wait time between me arriving to school to Anna coming out. And it stressed Anna out when she had to wait inside….while I was already waiting for her outside. After she came out in tears several times, I even wrote an email to the principal to see what could be improved. He didn’t offer any solutions except explaining the procedure to me, but I found a workaround. Nowadays I just arrive ~5 minutes earlier and make sure that my pick-up number is one of the firsts entered into the Google Doc. This way the teachers inside can easily (keyword is EASILY) see my number on the tablet whenever Anna is ready to come out.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

wednesday morning catch ups. (fall stuff)

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^^Anna had so much fun on her first school field trip to Cox Farms!^^

/1/ Have you been doing any fun fall activities? We haven't. Back in September, I wanted to go apple picking, but just as we were debating on whether or not to make the one-hour drive, my parents came over with just-picked apples from the orchard. Since we were able to get farm fresh apples without doing any work, it seemed pointless to still go just so I could get my annual apple picking pictures. So we skipped it. Then earlier this month, I wanted to take the kids to a pumpkin patch. Long story short: we ended up going to Walmart instead. Kind of boring, but easy and cheap (can't beat $4/pumpkin!).

/2/ But even if the family hasn't done any fall fun stuff, Anna did yesterday at her first school field trip! She had been so excited about it and I am glad she had a wonderful time with her teachers and classmates. She's now officially the only person in our family who's been to the famous fall festival at Cox Farms. She went on the rope swings, slides, hayride, saw some turkeys, and brought home a small pumpkin. Sounds like a great time to me.

/3/ I checked out a stack of Halloween/fall-themed books from the library. While I can't recommend all of them, The Hallo-wiener and Ghosts in the House! are fun and cute.

/4/ The kids' Halloween costumes arrived the other day and they were SO HAPPY with them. I am going to be all mysterious and keep it a secret for now :) Fingers crossed for decent weather on Halloween night!

/5/ My short rest-of-the-fall bucket list, in no particular order:
- go somewhere to see the fall foliage and take pictures
- make soup and eat with crusty bread
- eat homemade apple pie with whipped cream
- a Thanksgiving craft
- check out more fall-theme books from the library
- attend Halloween parade at Will's school (me)
- volunteer for Pumpkin Day (Luke) and International Day (both) at Anna's school
- Trick or Treating
- install hardwood floors (we are not doing the work ourselves, but it will still be chaotic)
- celebrate Will turning 4!
- Thanksgiving feast from Boston Market

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Taiwanese Food at Qtea Cafe!

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7.8 miles/18-minute drive might still seem far, but this just-opened Taiwanese eatery in Fairfax is actually the closest for me to authentic Taiwanese street food and bubble tea.

During our first visit, we ordered House Black Milk Tea with Tapioca, Taiwanese Chicken with Spiced Salt & Basil (鹽酥雞), Fried Tempura with Spiced Salt & Basil (甜不辣), and Taiwanese Pork Belly Buns (割包).

Everything was fresh and delicious. The bubble tea was honestly the best I've had in the DC area -- the tapioca was prepared perfectly. And this is picky and minor, but I was impressed that the shop uses a sealer machine to seal the cups instead of just regular lids. Very professional :) The chicken and tempura were both really, really good. The pork belly was a little bit too fatty for our taste, but we still ate it all up. Everything came under $30.
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^^The chicken was piping hot!^^

We had a great visit and can't wait to go back soon to try other menu items!

Cheers Qtea Cafe!!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Currently...

we are painting the house!
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And the kids are helping!

Haha, NOT.

I mean, we really ARE painting our house, but we know better and have outsourced it to the same professionals that painted the house 5 years ago. We are going with light gray this time and the entire first level is getting a fresh coat (except the family room and the breakfast area that we are keeping as-is). Then upstairs: the master bedroom, hallway, and guest bedroom are all getting the same light gray color, including all the closets.

So speaking of closets...our only main job during this entire process is to clear them for the painters. The mudroom closet, hallway closet, guest bedroom closet, linen closet, and our master bedroom closet. That's a lot of closets and our house currently looks like a war zone. Stuff spilling everywhere. Now, for me, I can live with a dust bunny or two (okay, a lot), but clutter and disorganization drive me insane. A good chunk of this weekend will be spent putting things away.

Last night as I was clearing our master bedroom closet, I ended up throwing 3 trash bag full of clothes away. And it felt good! It had been forever since I purged and it was long overdue. I don't think I had worn a SINGLE piece of clothing that was thrown away in the last 5 years.

- dusty old suits (hand-me-downs from my 5-feet, 100-pound SIL, how did THAT happen??)
- tiny fitted tees/tank tops (that I will never wear again due to my expanding midsection)
- raggedly freebie t-shirts
- short shorts
- lots of pants (again, midsection).

I was on a roll. I figured, the more I throw away, the less I have to fold and put back.

But what was not in the trash pile? A couple of sentimental examples:
- that high school graduation t-shirt from 1996
- that long-sleeve with holes that I had since my college dorm-living days
- those fun graphic shirts that I am saving for Anna, hehe
- that old, old purple pj set I wore after delivering my two babies at the hospital

Anyway, this is just the beginning of some major home improvement we are doing. Early next month we are getting new floors installed (hello, gleaming hardwood!) and then a new vanity for the powder room. Will keep the blog updated for sure!! xo

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Theodore Roosevelt Island

Yesterday we headed into DC for the National Air and Space Museum, but just as we got into the city, we found that roads were blocked and there was a running event going on. After seeing all the road closures, we got back on the freeway and made a quick decision to go to Theodore Roosevelt Island instead.
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^^"Raise your hands like the statue!"^^

Well, the kids will be the first to tell you that they did not like Theodore Roosevelt Island. "Walking is so boring," they complained. "I don't see many other kids," they commented. Despite our attempts to make the walk through the woods interesting, "Look, a snake!" (we really did see a small snake), the 30-minute-ish walk felt like an eternity to them. We won't be back for a long time (if ever), but at least now I can say we have been there, done that.
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^^It was a beautiful day to be out!"^^
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^^We made it to the boardwalk, but the loop was 1.3 miles so we just turned around :)"^^
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^^Last shot before leaving to capture the beginning of fall foliage.^^

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, October 5, 2015

best hot pot ever with little sheep hot pot soup base!

When we originally made the plan, I thought early October might be too warm to have hot pot, but thanks to Hurricane Joaquin, it turned out to be perfect weather. There is nothing better than simmering hot soup on a cold, dreary, dark, rainy, and windy day.
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I usually make my own soup base with pork bones, but this time we used a packaged soup base and it. was. delicious. If you are a hot pot lover, you should really try it. The flavor was excellent, a little bit herbal without being medicinal. It's hard to describe, but everyone (my parents came over) liked it. Thanks to Luke's uncle for introducing us to this wonderful product :) When we left California, he gave us two packs....the house original and the "mala" spicy. We used the house original this weekend and I was feeling so down about it, haha. Fortunately, Amazon came to my rescue so pretty soon my pantry will be stocked with it again.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!