Monday, December 19, 2016

Solitude

by Father Time

A little over a week ago, I loaded up the family, drove to the airport, and drove home alone.  That Saturday morning, I was sending the better half of the group off on their long journey to Taiwan.  The night before, Will was not feeling well and actually threw up in bed.  That was not a good start.  I'll save the details of their adventure for Joyce to recount when she gets back.  So I'll just be sharing random thoughts of man that has suddenly become familyless.
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^^Brave travelers.^^
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^^The last glimpse of the family at Dulles.^^

Now I know they were in store for a long trip, but little did I know that I'd be feeling the stillness of time as well.  Without Joyce and the kids around, my entire weekend was a blur.  With no set meals or bath/bed times, I was just hanging around.  Seriously, I played video games, watched movies, and read books.  All the while I was tracking their agonizingly slow progress.  I fell asleep before they even landed in Tokyo.
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^^Watching that little black plane move was like watching grass grow....in the desert.^^

When I awoke Sunday morning, they were still on their way to Taipei.  Thinking that I should be a little bit more productive that day, I decided to clean the house.  I had given the cleaners a break this month, so I went around the house and scrubbed, dusted, wiped, vacuumed, and did the laundry.  There were still some leftovers from Friday that managed to feed me through Tuesday evening.

The weekdays were good as I had a lot of work on my plate.  A bunch of lunch meetings managed to keep me fed as well.  Then the weekend came again!  I was doubly productive that frigid Saturday.  With the bathrooms all unused, I regrouted and recaulked several of them.  I can't exactly recall right now, but I'm sure I did something else productive, but whatever - I gave myself a pat on the back and rewarded myself with an hour at the shooting range on Sunday.  I still suck with my pistols at 25ft but discovered that I'm pretty decent at 40ft with my buddy's rifle.  After that, I was back home and alone again.  Luckily, the freakish weather had shot temps up from the 20s to the 60s that day, so I was able to give my car a much needed wash.

It's odd really, I never knew how much my daily routine revolved around my wife and kids.  The only semblance of a schedule is the whirr of the Roomba in the kitchen when he goes off at 7pm every nite.  That's usually when we start the bath/bed routine.  Right now, I'm just making things up as I go along.  So I find myself exercising at odd hours, eating randomly or skipping meals altogether.  Work is slower now that the holidays are closer, so I don't even step outside at times.  I definitely miss Joyce and the kids, but I loneliness hasn't really set in - yet.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Photo Dump (November)

I already blogged about the big events (Will's birthday and Kentucky) that happened in November, but here is a photo dump of the little happenings.

11/5: A nice Fall afternoon at Meadowlark Gardens.
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11/8: We took the kids to the polls.
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11/9: A rainy day and they insisted on going back out after we got home from school so they can use their umbrellas.
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11/20: This is how Will texts. ๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿ˜†๐Ÿ˜‡๐Ÿ˜ˆ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ˜Œ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜–๐Ÿ˜”๐Ÿ˜“๐Ÿ˜’๐Ÿ˜œ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜ž
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11/22: Thanksgiving lunch at Anna's school. This year we brought Chick-fil-A!
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11/26: Upon returning from Kentucky, we found one of our goldfish died. So the next day, we got a new one. Will got to pick it out (a little white one) and named it Blue Eye. The fish's eyes aren't actually blue anything but Anna has a fish called Pink Eye (eyes really are pink) so Blue Eye it is. (Back story: When Anna got her Pink Eye, we got one for Will too, but it didn't live long (could be because Will dropped the bag, could be something else...?), so we had promised him a new fish once a current fish dies to make room for more.)
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--

One last picture. This is actually from today, 12/9. See this building? I love this building. Because it's where I work and it's THREE minutes away from home. But, today is my last day here. *insert all the sad and crying emojis here* Time really flies. I remember talking about it with coworkers and it seemed so far away, but it's already here. When I come back from Taiwan, I will start my drive to Maryland.
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It's the end of an era....

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Christmastime!

This kids and I are leaving for Taiwan in five days! Nothing is packed, but I am not sweating it. We will do laundry Thursday night, and all the clean clothes will go into the suitcase instead of the closet. Easy peasy, right? I am excited for Taiwan, but also dreading it, if that makes sense. I am sure it does to all the parents out there ;) Since I will be solo'ing (with help from my parents), I am setting expectations low for this epic journey. We will see what we can, eat what we can, and hopefully make good memories and, most importantly, get back home safely.

So! I am trying to squeeze in some Christmastime fun in the week and half that we are in town this December. First, we put up the kids' Christmas tree. Since we won't be here for the holidays, we only set up the little tree in the family room this year. Luke set up the tree and the kids went at it. The ornaments (all homemade) on the kids' tree haven't changed much since we started it 3 years ago... It's not realistic to add any new ones this year, but maybe next year!
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^^haha, Will.^^

New for us this year is Jingle on Lake Anne...which brings me to this question, isn't it funny how things sound better on paper? Go ahead and click on that link and tell me that you wouldn't want to go too? Well, the "Holiday Arts & Crafts Market" was probably two or three stands, haha. It wasn't a complete loss though -- I mean, the weather was nice, kids enjoyed decorating (and eating) the cookies, and I visited somewhere new. And yes, Santa and his Elves came on a boat and paddle boards. We didn't get our pictures taken with Santa (too much craziness!), though.  
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As promised, we returned to Freeman Store to see Santa this year.
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This is seriously the best place to see Santa if you live in the area. FREE, no crowds, and the store itself is just lovely. We bought a little Virginia wall art :)
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Both kids were a bit shy to talk to Santa, but mustered up the courage for the sake of presents. Santa said Pokรฉmon is very popular this year. Not surprised :)
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I thought we were going to miss seeing Santa this year because of Taiwan, but I am so glad that the date still worked out. Now lets just hope Santa finds us in Taipei!
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Happy Christmasing Everyone!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Will is FIVE

Earlier this month, Will turned 5!

That morning, he came downstairs to find balloons and presents. This year he was very specific about what he wanted for his birthday and HE COULDN'T WAIT FOR HIS BIRTHDAY TO COME so he could get his hands them. His birthday loot? Pokรฉmon cards, Pokรฉmon cards, and more Pokรฉmon cards.
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Instead of boring cupcakes, Will requested doughnut holes to bring to school. Luke and I once again debated on whether or not we should just send in the treats in the morning with Will or bring them to school later during snack time. Since this is Will's last year at preschool, we decided to go :) The class sang Happy Birthday and Luke passed out the doughnuts. It was over in 5 minutes and back to the office! haha!
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It was still great to be there though :) We learned that Will is the best calendar helper and that his teachers think he's soooo ready for Kindergarten.

I can't remember what we had for dinner that night...I think it was just regular home-cooking...since we had already gone to Pho 75 over the weekend per Will's request. After dinner, it was time for cake! We turned off the light, lit the candle, and sang to our birthday boy. We all loved the ice cream cake from Baskin Robbins.
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^^Please note the purple #5 candle from Anna's birthday.^^

Just like all moms out there, I love pictures with everyone in them. Glad I snapped this quick one before cutting into the cake.
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Because Will attends birthday parties regularly, he actually asked for a birthday party this year. We convinced him that a birthday trip was the way to go so he went along with it. One of these days though, I want to agree to having a birthday party and invite all his friends. I think he would be so happy and excited.

Will didn't get a party, but a week before his birthday, my parents took the kids out for some Chuck E Cheese's fun. I can't believe we have been going to CEC for the past 3 years now for Will's birthday. He still loves it so much!! ๐Ÿ’—๐Ÿ’—๐Ÿ’—
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There is so much to say about Will, but it's hard for me to put them into words. Yesterday at his well check-up, he weighs almost 43 pounds and stands a little more than 43 inches tall. That means, he can ride pretty much all the thriller rides at Disney World! That means, we will definitely be going again, just don't know when ;) Will is the sweetest, he calls me his "cute mommy" and his last words to me before bed is always, "good night ai ni oh mama have a good sleep!"

Will is my sunshine-y boy, he never wakes up on the wrong side of the bed and is pleasant to deal with. Sure he can be a little whiny, which makes my blood boil, but as long as you reason with him ("we will do it next time, OK?"), he's good. Will LOVES to sing. He's constantly singing and making up his own songs. This morning, I heard him singing a Christmas song (I think it was Rudolph?) in his little voice and that just warmed my heart so much. I didn't mention this in the Dutch Wonderland post, but we went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner on that trip and his fortune cookie read, "Those who wish to sing will always find a song." Yup, that's Will.

Anyway, a very happy birthday to our best son! We adore you!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

thanksgiving 2016! roadtrip to kentucky!

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For our Thanksgiving 2016 craft, we did a newer version of the original handprint turkey. Even though we traveled this Thanksgiving and didn't make these until after Thanksgiving, on Black Friday, I am glad we were able to crank these out. I love our annual Thanksgiving craft tradition :)

Anyway, happy belated Thanksgiving everyone! Up until this year, we have always stayed locally for Thanksgiving, but this year, we drove 1200 miles round-trip to Kentucky to meet this one-month old young lady:
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It was a whirlwind of a trip. On Wednesday night, just before we went to sleep, Luke and I agreed that if we woke up in the middle of the night, we would just get in the car and start the 9-hour drive. It turned out that we both woke up around 11:30 that night (Wednesday), so we loaded up the car, woke up and kids, and left the house at 12:30 in the morning (Thursday). It was then over the mountains and through the winding roads to Uncle Andy's house we go! We got to Louisville right at 9:30am, ready to spend the entire day with the family!
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^^cute Ava^^

That night we had a big fancy traditional Thanksgiving meal that fed 10 adults, 5 kids, and 1 doberman. Everything was delicious...I think I want a traditional turkey meal on Thanksgiving from now on, instead of our usual Chinese mish-mash or Boston Market takeout. I also really liked the chicken pot pie from Cotsco!
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Our original plan was to stay until Saturday morning, but we ended up leaving around 3:30pm on Friday afternoon to avoid potential traffic. As I said, the trip was a whirlwind. But we did everything we wanted - we met baby Ava, saw my brother's family, and spent Thanksgiving together.
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We didn't plan to sightsee, but I am happy that we made a quick stop to the Big Four Bridge, which is a pedestrian bridge that connects Kentucky and Indiana, crossing the Ohio River.
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^^The view of downtown Louisville from the bridge.^^

We made it to the other side, and here are the kids in Indiana!
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Although the trip was very short, it was a great one. In all, we were only gone for 48 hours, with almost 18 of them in the car. When I told my coworkers about our plan, they all looked at me like I was crazy and suggested that I think twice because it was the busiest traveling time of the year. I am glad Luke encouraged me to go because it all worked out and we all got to meet the newest member of the family before she grows up all too quickly. So this Thanksgiving, in addition to being thankful for growing and healthy children, family, money, I am also thankful for this special trip. The kids love Kentucky and already said they want to go back next Thanksgiving. Kentucky = unlimited screen time.
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^^Driving in the middle of the night, we broke the rules and let Will sleep in the 3rd row in the minivan. Anna was in her carseat, under that pillow and coat.^^

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Our First Covered Bridge!

Just before we left the hotel the next morning to head home, we made a really short stop to one of the many covered bridges in Lancaster County. We used Google Maps (what was life like before Google?) and found Kurtz's Mill Covered Bridge to be only 10 minutes away, so off we went though the country roads!
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Well, it wasn't overly exciting, but it was a very pretty place to walk around. But now that I've done one covered bridge, I probably don't need to do another one again :) Actually, I take that back. I would looooove to do a leisurely tour of covered bridges during peak foliage one of these days.
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Rock throwing is always a good time.
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Overall, we had a great 24 hours in Lancaster. This was our second visit and I still love the area. Maybe next time, we will pick a warmer time of the year to visit. The first time we visited was in a February. Ha, that was nuts.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Will's 5th Birthday at Dutch Winter Wonderland

I can't believe Thanksgiving is this week and we are at the end of November! All month, I feel like we have been celebrating Will's big 5th birthday, and finally this weekend we finished off the celebrations with a trip to Lancaster PA. Just like Anna got a trip to Great Wolf Lodge for her 5th birthday, we took Will to Dutch Wonderland, or actually, Dutch Winter Wonderland for this time of the year.
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We left on Saturday after piano & swim and checked in at Country Inn and Suites at around 2:30pm. The hotel was conveniently located right across the street from Dutch Wonderland and the kids were so excited upon arriving and got a cookie each. The park was opening at 3pm, so we got there just in time to walk over!
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It was the grand opening evening of Dutch Winter Wonderland, which meant that the kids received free admissions with a donation of two unwrapped toys. So, all in all, we only paid $20 for Luke and me. It was a great deal!
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So...this is where I will tell a little story. I had actually been wanting to take the kids to Dutch Wonderland for a while now. In fact, this was my THIRD attempt. The last two times, I had the hotel booked and everything, but only to cancel at the last minute. Like, last winter, we had planned to go to Dutch Winter Wonderland as well, but then I won a free trip to Williamsburg around the same time and didn't have time for both trips, so we went with the free one :) I can't remember why we canceled the other time, but I am pretty sure it was because Luke backed out on me. Anyway, I am just glad that we finally made it for Will's 5th birthday. Haha, a dream of mine was fulfilled :)
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Since the park was operating on winter hours (3pm to 9pm), only about 20 rides were open, and we ended up getting on about half of that. There was a handful of rides (Panda Party, Duke's Dozers, etc) that were REALLY baby that we would have skipped anyway. The park was easy to navigate and all the rides were geared toward little kids (but adults could ride on most too), so it really was a great amusement park, just like what people told me. We asked the kids and they both said they liked Dutch Wonderland more than Kings Dominion but less than Busch Gardens, just for your reference :) We all had a great time!

The only bummer for me was that I really REALLY wanted to do Wonderland Special Train and Sky Ride, but we did neither. The train ride would have been a great way to see the whole park and holiday lights, but by the time it was actually dark enough to enjoy the lights, the train had broken down twice and we didn't want to risk waiting in line for nothing. As for Sky Ride, it closed just as we were going to get on due to strong winds.
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Speaking of strong winds, I started obsessively checking the weather a couple of days (ok, 15) before the trip. It alternated between rainy and clear skies and I was so stressed out about it. Finally a few days prior, it became clear that it was going to be rainy and (extremely) windy. Nevertheless, Luke said we were doing it, so of course I was more than happy to go along. The day before, I watched the hourly forecast like a hawk and knew exactly what to expect. It was going to be nice and sunny (in the 60s) until early afternoon, and then winds at 20-30mph with potential rain starting at 4pm, dipping the temperature to the 40s.
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All I can say is that at least the rain didn't come until much later, after we had already left the park, but the gusty winds swished in at exactly 4pm. We were on the Joust Family Coaster when Luke saw the clouds rolling in. And just as we got to the Exploration Island, it became SO windy. After that, we stayed for one more hour before Anna said she was ready to go. I think we all were, my ears were frozen. In the end, we only spent two hours at the park, but I felt like we still did a lot and I was very happy that we had one solid hour of amazing weather.
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^^Luke and the kids outside of the castle wall!^^
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^^WINDY^^
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This picture was taken from our room after everyone had gone to bed that night, but I was still high on Dutch Wonderland and couldn't fall asleep :) I looked out the window and saw snow coming down. 

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

School Pictures 2016 - 2017

School Pictures 2016-2017
Anna | First Grade | 9.27.16 | 6 and half years old
Will | Pre-K | 10.6.16 | almost 5 years old

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

wednesday morning catch ups. (our October!)

After I hit publish on yesterday post, I kept on having this nagging feeling that summarizing our October in one small paragraph just wasn’t enough. I mean, I haaaate losing memories. So today I am back with a rambly version of our month.

/1/ It's deer season! In October, we saw several deer in our backyard :) I finally caught a picture of one after several attempts.
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/2/ Anna got really good at drawing Pokรฉmons. I am so impressed! I especially like Goldeen, which she drew for me because she knows it's my favorite Pokรฉmon. We ended up turning those cute drawing into stickers using my sticker machine.
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/3/ October was a really slow month for our family with zero major event, just little day-to-day moments. Since the kids were stuck at home so much, they re-discovered these sticker books over Columbus Day weekend and were practically stuck in these positions the entire three days:
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^^The books kept them busy and, best of all, no fighting!^^

/4/ Anna finally got her front teeth x-rays taken!! The hygienist had been trying for the past two years to get pictures of Anna's mouth, ever since she turned four, but she just couldn't hold the plastic thing in long enough without gagging. Finally, this time, after a lot of gentle talk and patience from the hygienist, Anna finally did the impossible. Of course, only the front teeth. We are still working on getting pictures of the back, which will probably take another two years. Baby steps. But other than that, both kids have perfect oral health.
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/5/ We went to a Halloween event (Halloween on the Green) in Vienna after swim class one weekend. The weather was gorgeous so lots of people showed up. Despite the crowd, it was a good event because free pumpkins. Yes you heard it right -- FREE. Enough said :)
Halloween on the Green. My favorite part was the free pumpkins.
^^Will looking tired because this was the start of his illness.^^

/6/ Speaking of swimming, the kids started back up with swim class the second week of October. Now that weather is getting colder, swim class is a major hassle with all the layers of clothing necessary just to leave the house. The kids are also getting to the point where they sort of know how to swim, but just need more practice. The plan now is to continue with the class through November, and then stop and start back up again in April so they can be ready for the summer.

/7/ Will stayed home from school for almost a week because he was so sick. It started out as a low-grade fever that lasted off and on for about two days. Then came the intense coughing. So intense that it strained his little tummy and chest and he was in so much pain. After 3 days staying home from school and then the weekend, I thought he would be good to go on Monday. But came Monday morning and he didn't even want to get out of bed. I finally decided that he looked pretty bad and needed to see a doctor. That day, I took a half day off from work and took him to the walk-in clinic. It turned out to be a run-of-the-mill cold, but something about a restricted airway was mentioned and we were prescribed an inhaler. Either the inhaler ($90...good thing we have HSA) really worked or that Will was already on the road to recovery anyway, but he went back to school on Tuesday without any problems and the illness was finally behind us.
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/8/ Anna is still chugging along with piano. I make her practice almost daily for at least 15 minutes and that's probably her least favorite time of the day. And mine, if we are being honest. "It's b FLAT, not b SHARP!!" But all Chinese girls must know how to play the piano, right? Her piano teacher did mention to me just the other week that she wishes all her students could be like Anna, haha :)

/9/ Sometimes the kids are so hungry after school that they eat as I cook.
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Now that I wrote this post...on to November!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!