Wednesday, August 16, 2017

wednesday morning catch ups.

We are a week and half away from the first day of school! This week is the last week of summer camp for the kids. And for the first time the entire summer, they are at different camps (Gymnastic and Dance for Anna & Jr. ROCS for Will). Both are doing just fine, but they said they would rather still be together :) Next week, I am staying home with the kids. I have a few field trips planned and I hope we will get to all of them. After a whole summer of camps (with an exception of two weeks of vacation), it will be good to have a break in the routine before school starts.

/1/ Last week the kids passed the "deep water" test at camp! All summer they played at the shallow end of the pool, but last week they finally worked up the courage to take the test (swimming from end to end without stopping). They were just so elated about the fact that they passed. Luke and I were soooo proud!
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^^Showing off their swim test bracelets!^^

/2/ Mango turned ONE YEAR OLD. We made him a peanut butter cake, lit a candle, sang Happy Birthday, got him presents and everything :)
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Unlike our other dogs who never played with toys, Mango actually plays and it's so fun watching him chasing and catching balls, tossing and thrashing his stuffies.
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He's also a good sport when the kids want to involve him in whatever it is they are doing. In the picture above, they were playing "Moana"....Mango was Haihei.

/3/ Have I mentioned that I started Will on piano lessons? He has had 3 lessons so far and it's going well! I used to think that kids just need parents to push them to practice, but now with Will, I see that not all kids need that. Seriously, Will practices on his own without me saying a word. When we practice together, he begs to play more. Such a difference! Anyway, he's doing great -- flew through the first book (yes already!) and starting on the second one.

/3/ I took the kids on an outing to Glen Echo Park in Bethesda (MD), which is a park very close to my workplace and I drive by it every day. When I saw this deal on CertifiKid, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to do some activities there while visiting for the first time. Turned out the deal was just OK...the kids have already forgotten about the jellyfish they made at Saturday Art Explorers and two rounds on the carousel was an overkill.
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But, the park itself was pretty good, lots of artsy things/exhibits such as pottery and glass blowing. We saw a pottery demonstration inside a yurt and the kids seemed fascinated. However, the most memorable and fun part of the outing was probably this wacky water fountain.
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^^Haha, kid.^^

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

thursday afternoon catch ups.

I haven't been good about taking pictures of our everyday this summer. It seems like I only take pictures on vacations... But it has been a month since my last catch ups, so I will share what I can with the pictures I have :)

/1/ No summer is complete without getting soaked at Mosaic District. I have been saying that the kids are way too big for this little splash area for the last, oh, 3 years, but they always still manage to have fun. We came here one evening after pho with friends and it was such a great summer night!
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/2/ We went to Wegmans specifically to pick up this strawberry shortcake. It tasted amazing, very very similar to those Asian sponge cakes that I love, but without the high price tag. It was $15, I think. Kids and hubs didn't like it (said it was tasteless), so I ate nearly the whole thing myself. I didn't complain :-p
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/3/ I took the kids to Flight with a few of my college friends and their kids. It was the kids' first trampoline park experience. Will liked it more than Anna, but overall it was very fun. We used Groupon to make the outing more affordable :)
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/4/ That same weekend we also went back to Mosaic for an outdoor movie. While I think the concept of watching a movie outside is cool, the reality of it is this: why would you do that when you can watch the same movie from the comfort of your couch, without having to sweat? So, we never tried it...until that weekend when Anna's friend's mom invited us to go along. Since I want to foster Anna's friendship with this friend, I happily agreed. What did I think? Well, I was glad that at least the movie was only 1.5 hours :), but Anna and Will had fun hanging out with other kids so it was all good. Besides, an outdoor movie experience? Check! 
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/5/ Every day I drive the kids to camp and pick them up. I am going to miss this routine when it ends in a couple of weeks. They are always SO HAPPY about going to camp and picking them up is fun too. I am just thrilled that camp is going well this summer. These two literally spend every waking moment together.
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(For my own personal records, this year I have them both enrolled in Jr. ROCS, a variety camp, at the rec center. This is one of the few camps that they can do it together so I went with it. They have daily swim and play lots of group games. Next year when they are 8 and 6, there will be more options to choose from and I will be able to mix it up a little, but this year I am happy that they are just having lots of playtime.)
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/6/ The kids are officially done with their swim lessons and they have improved so much. In total, since the end of April, they went through 12 half-hour semi-private lessons. Hundreds of dollars later, they are now REALLY comfortable in the water. Unfortunately, since this swim school is so darn expensive, I am not planning on going back. I think the kids should be fine with rec center swim lessons now, so we will do that instead. I will wait until after Will turns 6 so they can be in the same class. It's all about convenience for me!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Family Reunion in Williamsburg (July 23 - 28, 2017)

First family reunion trip is in the books!

(7/23 - 7/28/17)
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Sun. : Peking Restaurant, Busch Gardens
Mon. : Water Country, Chopsticks Pho & Grill, Colonial W'burg, Baskin-Robbins, pool
Tues. : Yorktown Beach, Food For Thought, pool
Wed. : Busch Gardens, Peter Chang, Sweet Frog, playground
Thurs. : Water Country, Chinese take-out, Jamestown sand bank (our secret spot), Papa John's

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Delaware Beaches and OC: Things To Do

Previously || Delaware Beaches and OC: Where We Stayed

I have been thinking about a fun way to write about our latest beach vacation, but I am fresh out of ideas. So instead I am just going to summarize it quickly before we pack up and leave for our next trip...this Sunday! :)

As I said in my previous post, the best thing about this vacation was how easy it was. The hotel booking process was easy, the drive was just about 3 hours long (crossing over the Bay Bridge on a Sunday morning is a breeze), and once we got there, we had no fix schedule to tie us down. We literally did whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted.

So what exactly did we do? Well...

We spent a lot of time at the pool.
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Time and time again, I would make a comment to Luke about how much we could save if we had stayed at a rental property, but honestly, that wouldn’t have given us access to a pool and the vacation definitely would not have been as fun.

Although it was a beach vacation, we sadly did not spend too much time at the beach. I was super disappointed. The weather was gorgeous (sunny, upper 70s) all week for laying out and playing in the sand...but the water was freezing. Not that the kids would have swam in the ocean anyway, but for whatever reason, they just wanted nothing to do with the beach. We even had a great setup -- toys, beach chairs, towels, snacks. Oh, and we had free shuttle to the beach too! 
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But even though they hated the beach during the day, we couldn't pull them away in the evening. When they are fully dressed and shouldn't be getting wet, they love the beach! Go figure.
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Before the trip I knew I wanted to eat all the quintessential boardwalk food – salty fries, funnel cake, ice cream, caramel popcorn, pizza.
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^^The kids didn't like caramel popcorn so Luke and I ate the entire tub.^^
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^^$21 for 4 scoops of ice cream. When in Rome...^^
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^^@ The Dough Roller^^

And we did!!

We also went to Funland, a little amusement park with carnival rides and arcade games. I had read and heard many good things about it so my expectations were high. Eh, it was just okay. The most annoying thing was the arcade games kept on eating our quarters and there was no staff around to ask for our money back.
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One day, we got in our van and hit up other Delaware beaches in the area.

Bethany Beach...cute, posh, clean, family friendly. We spotted dolphins! If we go back to Delaware beaches again, we want to stay here next time :)
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Fenwick Island...where we saw the smallest "boardwalk" ever.
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^^"It's not even near the water," Luke commented.^^

We even drove all the way to Ocean City, but a certain girl didn't want to walk.
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But it worked out okay because had we walked all the way to the busy part of the boardwalk on that first visit, we would not have gone back to OC and stayed there for a night on the last day.

These pictures are from our second visit to OC:
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^^We made it to the end of the boardwalk!^^
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^^Will took this picture for us, haha, his finger.^^
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On another day we went to Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes.

Among other things (less crowds, nature trails, a calmer beach scene), we were all looking forward to exploring tide pools. Turned out the way to the tide pools were blocked off because of nesting birds so it wasn't all that great of a visit.

But the kids found of the most seashells here...
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touched a stingray...
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and climbed to the top of a tower.
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Then we walked around downtown Lewes (cute and quaint) and cooled down with a banana split.
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--
Hmmm...this post is all over the place. I hope when I come back to reminisce years from now, I will be able to understand my ramblings. I have one more post to wrap it all up and I hope to hit publish on Friday!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Delaware Beaches and OC: Where We Stayed

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The best thing about our Delaware beaches and OC trip was how easy it was, from start to finish. We agreed on Rehoboth Beach after having “Maine Coast Vacation” on our calendars for the longest time. Around the end of May though, Luke and I decided that Maine was too far of a drive and kids probably wouldn’t appreciate the scenery. I mean, I am sure we could have found kid-friendly activities up in New England, but the long drive was very unappealing to us. And…since we have always wanted to visit Rehoboth we quickly decided on there instead!

Oh, but to tell a more complete story, we did consider an all-inclusive in Mexico as well, but that idea was nixed almost as soon as it was born.

Where We Stayed
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^^from Avenue Inn...a 5-minute stroll to this classic landmark!^^

Since I had done research on Rehoboth previously (I am sure you all plan imaginary vacations in your free time too, no?), I knew exactly where I wanted to stay – Avenue Inn and Spa. It turned out to be a great decision. A bit pricey, but worth it to be a 5-minute walking distance to the boardwalk and beach.
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The extra perks were great -- shuttle service to the beach, free towels and beach chairs, complementary hot breakfast, all-you-can-eat chocolate chip cookies in the evening -- just to name a few! All staff members were nice, helpful, and accommodating. On arrival day, we got there at 11:30am, way too early for check-in, but we got to use the hotel pool while we waited for our room.

I have no hesitation to stay there again and highly recommend it :)
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^^posh-looking lobby^^

Our room was plenty big for us and super clean.
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^^our room type was "Wilmington Ave Resort Queen"^^

We ended up booking 3 nights at Avenue Inn and 2 additional nights further away at Hampton Inn. Unfortunately Hampton Inn was quite a disappointment (no pictures from this stay; just picture a very standard hotel located at a very congested road with lots of beach traffic), so we checked out a day early and spent our last night at Ocean City MD!
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At OC, we stayed at Courtyard Marriott which was oceanfront and spectacular. Since OC wasn’t originally on our plan to visit, I was thrilled at this bonus!

Next I will write about what we did on our vacation :)

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Friday, July 7, 2017

friday morning catch ups.

Time for another catch ups just so I don't forget the little snippets of our lives.

/1/ Mango provides such entertainment for them! :) They both love him so much.
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/2/ We seem to have officially moved on from picture books and into chapter books. This summer we have been reading Galaxy Zack, and for those who are interested, both my kids (7 and 5) love it. There are illustrations on every page, so it's a great for Will, who's just starting K in the fall. The best part is that Luke doesn't complain about reading them and we actually finish a book every 3-4 nights. And it also makes my job a lot easier to know what to check out at the library vs. blindly picking out books from the shelves.

/3/ Speaking of books, we completed the summer reading program at the library and got our coupon books :)

/4/ I took the kids to the Home Depot Kids Workshop that I believe happens every first Saturday of the month. The first time we did this was in 2015 and I always intended on going back. Ha, it only took me two years. But seriously though, the older they get, the more sense it makes to take them to these kind of activities. I saw moms with toddlers and they were basically doing the whole project for their kids and I thought to myself: what's the point? Anyway, the kids had fun making their bug house and already asked to go back again next time.  
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^^Haha, Will's face.^^

Tip: I figured out that with the workshop running from 9-12pm, the best time to go is around 10-ish...less crowded with the earlier visitors already gone.

/5/ We took Mango on his first trip into DC. What do I have to say about it? It was a really H.O.T day. That is all.
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How the kids cooled off after we came home:
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/6/ For the 4th, we stayed home and had our own fireworks outside. We attempted to wait until later, but made it till 8:30pm...so not exactly dark yet. I took most of the pictures with Luke's phone since mine died but since I don't have access to his photos right now, these two pictures will have to do.
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For the most part, kids really like fireworks now except the really loud ones, like spinner. They liked snakes and sparklers the best :)

/7/ The kids started camp this week and so far it's going great! I will write more about it next time, but right now I just want to say it's so good for the kids to have one another. Especially with them so close in age (20 months apart) and are able to be in the same camp together. It makes it easier for hard-to-adjust Anna, but also good for Will to have Anna there to help him feel comfortable since he's probably the youngest camper in the group.

/8/ I think this is it for this installation of catch ups. The next time I write, it will be a big fat post about our trip to Delaware beaches! Yum.....Thrasher's...
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[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Anna's Last Day of First Grade

Given that Anna's last day of school was over a week ago, I figure it's high time to write a post about it before it fades into a distant memory...

Here she is on the last day of school:
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^^vs. the first day of school^^

Perhaps not much difference?
But she sure has more gaps in her teeth! She lost 3 this school year...
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Overall, it was another fantastic year for my big first grader! She happily went to school every day (although before-care took until December to get used to, sigh), and for me, that's just THE biggest relieve. The fact that she also excelled academically is just icing on the cake!!

Some of my thoughts, mimicking last year's post:

-- This year we only volunteered a handful of times despite my best intention to volunteer ALL the time. Lets see...Luke and I both volunteered for Pumpkin Math back in October, he chaperoned the field trip to Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and I helped with stuffing weekly Tuesday Folders (a job no one enthusiastically signed up for, but I did it *winkwink* to get on the teacher's good side;)).

-- We attended about half of the school-wide events (Halloween Fun Night, STEM Night, before-care's end-of-year event), and definitely the one time where all parents were invited to the Reader's Theatre performance in the classroom. Anna was assigned the role of narrator in Stone Soup and she did a very good job :)
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^^Anna and her fabulously fun teacher, Mrs. H, at Reader’s Theatre performance!^^
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-- Even though Anna had a successful year, we both agreed that her Kindergarten year was better. The reason? Her teacher. Yes, Mrs. H was good and funny and silly and fair, but no one adored Anna like her Kindergarten teacher. All year long, she visited her K teacher every day before going to first grade and the K teacher actually emailed me throughout the year to tell me how much Anna means to her and she's just thrilled that she hasn't forgotten about her :) I really hope Will gets her so I can continue this teacher-friend relationship with her...although I am pretty sure we will keep in touch either way.

-- After my work moved further away in January, I adjusted my work schedule so I still dropped off Anna in the morning (although earlier at 7:15) at before-care and picked her up at 4:05pm every day. At before-care, I gave her homework assignments. She had to do them before she did anything else. #alwaysatigermom

-- This year I didn't get nearly as many calls from the clinic as least year. Yes!

-- It just so happen that Anna's two favorite friends from K were also in her first grade class. Maybe their K teacher pulled some strings because she knew Anna needed help with transition into first grade? If yes, I am forever grateful. Those 3 girls became even closer this school year and now have nicknames for one another. I have my fingers and toes crossed that they will somehow all end up in the same second grade together as well.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!