Friday, April 22, 2016

friday morning catch ups.

No ground-breaking news, just want to document our regular everyday.
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/1/We planted some basil seeds last weekend, and by Tuesday this week, they have already sprouted :) Kids are excited, but I am even more excited because I just love growing basils in the summer. Now that I know exactly how to harvest to encourage growth, I always end up with too much. So not only I add them to all my cooking, but I also give them away to whoever I see. I will probably wait for another week or two before transplanting these seedlings to their permanent home, our little herb garden. By the way, these cute watering can pots (including the basil seeds and potting soil) were gifts from the school's PTA to us for volunteering. I am especially happy that I am actually using them, instead of tossing them somewhere. 

/2/ While the basils are just beginning to grow, my cilantro has been going nuts for a while now. Do you like cilantro? They seriously make everything taste gourmet. From what I read, cilantro grows best in the spring, so I guess it makes sense. When the weather gets warm, cilantro grows tall and flowers, and the harvest season ends. Interesting!! I am just going to leave the plants alone, let them flower and re-seed and wait for fall, which is the other season that cilantro thrives in.
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/3/ We passed on a lot of big baby things (crib, travel system, pack n' play) to my brother a couple of years ago, but now that Anna and Will are getting older, we have even more stuff that we don't need anymore. Strollers, car seats, rocking chair. Luke listed all of them for sale on Craigslist last week and, as of last night, EVERYTHING IS SOLD! We really just wanted to get rid of the items, so we listed them for cheap. Only made $85 total. Meh. But anyway, no more strollers in the house! That is huge! The only time we really used strollers was on our Disney World trips, and we figured that the next time we go to Disney, the boy will be at least 5 years old. He can walk :)

/4/ Every day after school, I can't wait to dig into Anna's bag pack to see what I find. You know those annual birthday interviews that moms tend to do with their kids? Well, my kids are always too silly to sit through them, or they give me a bunch of, um, dumb answers that I know aren't true. Well, I like this one that Anna did at school and will keep it in my memory box!
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/5/ As I type, Anna is on her first field trip ever with her before-care program. They are heading all the way to Gaithersburg, MD to see the new movie, The Jungle Book, and then to a park if it doesn't rain. I am kind of worried about her since the kids are not just kindergartners, but range all the way to 6th grade. I am guessing with older, more independent kids, the teachers might be more hands-off, but really I am not too worried about that either. My main concern is that they will be giving the kids lunch (hot dog, popcorn, fruit snack) in the dark theater. With Anna and her history, I just hope she doesn't choke and throw up!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, April 18, 2016

4 Things Kids Related

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1. They are doing great at school!

I am crazy proud of Anna's latest report card. I know she's only in kindergarten and I take "report card" with a grain of salt, but I see progress and I am very pleased with it :) She brings home worksheets with smiley faces on top, or with words like "wonderful!", "nice!", or "amazing!" Besides DOING well at school, I know she ENJOYS being there too. When I pick her up from school, she's always in a great mood and skips happily. All in all, we love school!

But, I am honestly not as connected to Will's school as I am with Anna's....and the reason is that Luke does all the drop-offs and pick-ups. I do know that he has a great group of friends that he plays with, which is probably the most important at the age. He's so cute with his speech (or repeating what he hears at school). His class just recently got done with Letter of the Week and Anna asked what he will be learning next. He said, "We will learn numbers, and then shapes. And then after that, I will be a bird." In case you are confused with the "bird" part, it just means that he will move up to the next class (4's) at school. Haha.

2. They like going to birthday parties. (Me too.)

Birthday parties are pretty great, especially when you are not the host. Just show up with a present, watch the kids chase each other, and smile knowing that they will sleep good at night. Bonus point if a full meal is served, like the one we recently attended. If we choose to, there is a birthday party every weekend for the next few weeks. Kind of ridiculous, but I secretly love it.

3. They are good playmates.

The kids adore playing with other kids, but when they are at home, they are best buddies. Life might be calmer with one child, but it is significantly better, maybe even easier, with two.

4. They have a slow lifestyle.

Outside of school and a weekly 30-minute piano lesson for Anna, my kids do not have any extra curricular activities. Right now, their weekends are filled with unstructured playtime (pushing each other on the buggy, picking up sticks, burning helicopter seeds with magnifying glasses), and I am mostly OK with it. I say "mostly" because I do have a case of FOMO. Fear Of Missing Out. But instead of stressing over it and bouncing from one activity to the next, I am fine with keeping life at a slow pace. At least for now when they are still little and need naps :)

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

tuesday morning catch ups.

/1/ The first catch up is an oldie. This is Will, all dressed up for his school's annual music show, which happened at the end of last month. I was glad that I took a picture of him BEFORE the show, because after the show, we were in a mad dash to just get the heck out. The show didn't start until 7:30p, and including the school director's rambling, it didn't end until almost 9p. Way too late for a bunch of little kids (and me). But as for my little star, he did pretty well. Mostly participated and when he didn't, I am sure it was due to exhaustion.
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/2/ I include a lunch note in Anna's lunchbox everyday. The other day, I found one in MY lunchbox from her :)
My lunch love note.
/3/ For the past 6 years, the only books I read were literally children's books...but that is about to change. I have just inherited the hubs' old Kindle Paperwhite and I can't wait to start reading for myself again. You won't find me with my nose in literary classics, though. Trashy pop novels all the way - first up, Shopaholic to the Stars :)

/4/ Right now, the kids are super into Perler beads. I find them sitting at the dining table first thing in the morning and then again as soon as they are back from school. Since we don't use our formal dining table, they can just leave the mess out and go back to it anytime, which makes it convenient. As I write this post, I wish I had taken a picture of all their creations. Oh well, next time.

/5/ Oh, and they are also loving Lego blocks (the kiddie ones) lately. They build big structures and make up stories and play for hours on end. And to think they had completely forgotten about those blocks until one night last week when I told them to "leave me alone" and randomly then shouted "go play with blocks!"

/6/ I am looking forward to book our Williamsburg vacation! I already know the dates when we are going, which resort we want to stay, and every other last detail, but just waiting for when we are within 60 days to book because that's when the price will be discounted up to 50%. When I do, I plan to write a post on secrets to have a great family vacation in Williamsburg without spending a bunch!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Mama's Test Kitchen: Chicken Ginger Congee

Chicken Ginger Porridge
I have been craving congee lately. Not those plain ones (rice boiled in water and you add your own toppings at the end) that my parents used to make, but a version that is delicious all on its own. I forgot where I got the idea to google "chicken ginger congee", but when I did, several recipes popped up and I decided to give it a try. The congee turned out to be very good. It was rich in flavor, and the one-pot made clean-up a breeze. I really loved the ginger flavor, too. It made me feel all warm inside. It was also pretty economical. A couple of drumsticks, rice, and water :) The only downside I see is that kids wouldn't touch it, which is too bad because I am adding this to our meal rotation.

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A review on Chicken Ginger Congee (adapted from here and here):
Result: 4 out of 4
Will I make it again: Most definitely will!
Chef’s Notes: I added more water as I went along because I like my congee on the more watery side. Also, because of the ginger, I think this would be a great dish for Chinese confinement.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, April 4, 2016

the National Aquarium

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This weekend we joined some friends and visited the National Aquarium  – located in Baltimore.

Our friends are members, so under their membership, the kids got in for free and Luke and I went in at a discounted rate, but it was still rather pricey.

But inside the aquarium, the tanks and pools were gorgeous to look at. All the marine life, water and colors were very pretty. I am always happy to stare at little colorful fish :) I even touched a jellyfish at the touch pool. It felt like rubber.

My only gripe was that the aquarium was so packed full of people, and it was really hard to marvel at the gorgeousness with people all over the place. My friend, who home-schools, says it's nothing like this on the weekday.

Because of the crowd, we just had an OK time, not bad, but not great either. If we go again, I will definitely consider taking a day off during the week. Her membership doesn't expire until September :)

Anyway, before we left for the trip, I told the kids that they were NOT to run around and act crazy at the aquarium. I expected them to come away having learned something. I told Anna that she needed to write me 5 sentences on the excursion and Will that he needed draw 3 things that he saw. (Haha I’m so hardcore.)

Anna finished her sentences as soon as we got home:
Anna's story after a visit to the National Aquarium, 4/2/2016
Getting Will to draw was *such* a power struggle, on the other hand. He flat out refused to do it...until the next day when Anna got to watch Pokemon and he couldn't because he didn't do his assignment.

So finally, he reluctantly drew this:
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Tell me, what do you see?

Well, between the aquarium and all the activities we did on our Roanoke trip, I feel like we have been too spendy lately, especially since the kids don't seem to appreciate any of it. I am ready to buckle down and seek out some free alternatives around town.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!