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? Pokémon cards, Pokémon cards, and more Pokémon 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!! 💗💗💗
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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 Pokémons. I am so impressed! I especially like Goldeen, which she drew for me because she knows it's my favorite Pokémon. 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!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Halloween 2016

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This year the only thing I did to prepare for Halloween was dust off the kids' old costume from last year. Since they continue to be Pokémon obsessed, it made sense to just be Pikachu and Squirtle again. But just because I hate repeats, I did consider briefly about letting them pick a new/different Pokémon costume on Amazon, but in the end the more sensible side of me won.
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As always we trick-or-treated with my friend and her kids in their neighborhood. I think it took us an hour to hit up all the houses that were open for business and the kids' buckets were full to the brim by the end. The kids ran from door to door, the adults chatted, it was another great Halloween night!
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In addition to the big Halloween night, there were several events that led up to it. First, Will's preschool had a Halloween party and parade, which basically meant an excuse for the kids to stuff themselves with donuts and cupcakes and cookies at 9 in the morning. I am glad that my flexible job allowed me to attend, but I am even more glad that this is the last year :) Not that I am counting or anything, but SEVEN more tuition payments left. I am going to be the first mom in line to register Will for kindergarten come this Spring.
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Then Anna's school had its annual Halloween Fun Night. We didn't go last year, but this year I marked it on the calendar. The event was OK. Way too crowded. The kids liked the bounce house the most, and we all did the haunted house too. Haha, their first haunted house experience terrified them. Overall, I think Anna had lots of fun, but Will didn't. Luke ended up taking him outside to wait in the car for us. But because I knew that they were waiting for us, we only stayed a little bit longer to use up the tickets. I think the lesson learned here is that we need to start separating the kids, that we don't always need to do everything as a family. I should have taken Anna on my own and left Will at home with Luke...this way, Anna could hang out with her friends without rushing.
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^^Definitely saw more Pikachus this year!^^

Finally, Luke and I volunteered for the first time this school year in Anna's classroom for a Pumpkin Math activity. As the move to Bethesda looms closer, I am taking advantage of these volunteer opportunities as much as I can. It was a lot of fun spending time with Anna at her school. We kept it a secret so she was completely surprised when we showed up in her classroom! She greeted us with big hugs. That was the best part!
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^^Grouping the pumpkins seeds by 10's.^^

--
October flew by in the blink of an eye and I can't believe I only blogged 4 times! Definitely one of my slowest months ever... I just want to remember that we took turns getting sick in the month of October. First Anna, then me. Then Will, and me again. Anna didn't miss any school, but Will missed almost a week. Now that we are all healthy again, lets hope that we continue to be for the rest of the year because we have a small birthday trip coming up for Will, and then Taiwan in December!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!