Friday, June 23, 2017

Last Day at Appletree II...aka The End of an Era

Yesterday was the last day of preschool for Will. I thought it would be an emotional day for me, but honestly I felt OK. I think it’s because Will himself is very nonchalant about leaving and has said more than once that he’s excited to go to [insert the name of our elementary school], so I am feeling pretty good about it too. And, I just have to shout again for the last time: NO MORE PRESCHOOL TUITION!
^^Compare it to the first day of school!^^

In September 2014, Anna started Appletree II. The kids overlapped for the summer program in 2015, but when she left for public school in the fall, Will continued on for the next two years. So in all, we have been with the school for three years! While I didn’t adore the cost of going there, I did adore the school environment, the teachers/administration, and how both kids really just thrived.

Their first day together - Summer 2015:
Leaving Appletree for the very last time yesterday:
Getting back to Will…he really had a great year as a Yellowbird. He was well-liked by his teachers and they all just have the best things to say about him. They tell me that he’s focused, a [print] perfectionist, witty, smart, full of good ideas, and although shy and quiet, he’s “animated with his friends.” He was a drama-free kid who never caused any trouble, a good helper in the classroom, and a leader who initiated games on the playground. What an awesome kid, right?

Yellowbirds 2016-2017 Playground
Yellowbirds 2016-2017
But even though he loved Appletree, Will is soooo looking forward to Kindergarten and I am 99 percent (gotta leave 1 percent for error) positive that he’s going to shine there.

As his mom, I am certainty a little weepy about Will growing up, probably the most about him losing his innocence. The other day we had the cleaners over and I was telling him that we can't be in the same room that the cleaners are cleaning. He responded, "or else the cleaners will clean us." Haha, hilarious!

So...onto Kindergarten! But, before that, here's to a great, fun-filled summer!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Friday, June 16, 2017

friday morning catch ups.

Although nothing big is happening with us, it's the small moments that make up our lives, so here is catching up to present day.

/1/ Will wrapped up his first soccer season and he genuinely had so. much. fun. At the last practice during scrimmage, he actually scored the last goal for his team! I am kicking myself for not getting it on fact, I didn't even see it...but he sure was proud. I am still on the fence about signing him up for the fall season because the practice is on a weeknight and he's usually dead tired by the evening now that he doesn't nap, BUT it's only for 8 we will see.
The week before the last practice, there was a BBQ at the coach's house and every player got a medal...a heavy duty one with his name engraved on the back. Now Anna says that she wants to play soccer so she can get one too.
^^Haha, the sun was in his eyes.^^

/2/ Mango is like a stuffed animal to them.
/3/ We had a few very hot days so we took the kids to the splash pad at new-ish Old Town Square in Fairfax City. Kids had fun, although they are definitely one of the older kids there. On my summer bucket list to to take them to several new-to-us splash pads around the area before they get any older. 
After water play, we went to a Vietnamese restaurant that was within walking distance. The food was mediocre (not sure what the rave reviews on Yelp was all about), but they gave the kids a box of crayons and I just loved Anna's sketch.
Then the next day we visited an old favorite -- Our Special Harbor Spray Park. The last time we were there was almost 3 years ago, while Will was in the middle of potty training. Here is the blog post on our first visit...the place was deserted! That was soooo NOT the case this time around
/4/ We took Mango on an outing for the first time! This was at Scott's Run Nature Preserve, which apparently is a very popular place for dogs. Well-behaved dogs can even be off-leash. Haha, we saw a big dog refusing to walk in the shallow water but here is Mango trudging through. He's so fun!!
/5/ This week Luke was away for two nights, and let me just say that I AM SO GLAD that we are finally at the end of the tunnel with two drop-offs.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Art Friday, No. 7

Just catching up on Anna's latest creations...
Love her drawings and how she chooses to spend her quiet time at school.
(by Anna : age 7)

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Friday, June 2, 2017

friday morning catch ups.

/1/ It's that time of the year again! And by that I mean the Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program. This is our fourth year participating and the kids still love it. The program runs all summer long, but we are way ahead of the game and got our free books already. It's a great program and I highly recommend it. I mean, we are already reading books regardless, and it's not much work to write the titles down and get a free book in return. (For my own personal record, Anna picked this book from the Owl Diaries series and Will chose Plants vs. Zombies: Save Your Brains!.)

/2/ It's also the season of festivals! In the last two weeks we have attended two festivals - McLean Day and Viva Vienna. In my glory days of blogging, I would have blogged separately about all of this. Not so much anymore! I will just say that the kids had a lot of fun at both. McLean Day was especially nice with laser tag and bubble soccer (although we didn't try this one).
The best thing about the festivals are the giveaways. Usually they are just junk, but at both festivals the kids got a few decent toys. But for them, anything is good really. I mean, they had just as much fun playing pretend with the non-toys (toothbrush, bag clips) as their real toys. They are so easily amused that it's hilarious to me.
^^McLean Day was entirely free, but at Viva Vienna, we bought $20 worth of tickets for the kids to get on some rides. Remember this same ride from 2015?^^

/3/ Memorial Day weekend...I had it extra long due to my part-time work status. For the entire month of May, I couldn't wait for my days off (six in total including weekend and holiday), but by the last day, I was itching to go back to work. I watched soooo much TV and it made me feel so sluggish! I used to wish that I was a stay at home mom, but now I know that having a job to go to is actually not bad.

/4/ So what have I been watching? Haha, two words, Taiwanese drama. I finished watching Back to 1989 a while back. It was so good. I just loved watching the bubbling romance between Chen Che and Zhen Zhen :) #allthefeels. I thought about taking a break, since Taiwanese dramas can be long and slow-moving, but somehow I fell into watching this one right away. This one is just OK, sillier and more nonsensical. It doesn't really deserve my undivided attention, so I usually have it on the background while browsing aimlessly.
/5/ Hubs and I went on a ramen lunch date. The ramen itself was pretty forgettable, but I thought the slow-braised pork bun was very very good. It was a nice day, so we sat outside and enjoyed a very peaceful lunch sans kids. In case anyone is interested, we went to JINYA Ramen Bar at Mosaic District! For ramen near me, I still like Marumen more. 

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Friday, May 19, 2017

friday morning catch ups.

I can't believe we are already half way through May. Time is just zooming by.

/1/ Earlier this month, we paid our last preschool tuition for the rest of our lives. That's huge. As people say, it's like getting a pay raise :) So now we have no mortgage and no school tuition...maybe it's time I consider retirement?

/2/ We attended Will's tumbling show at school. Omg, it was an absolute torture sitting through ONE HOUR of watching other kids before Will's class was finally up. Grrr...I was so annoyed (if I had known that his class would be last...), but it was good to see Will up there doing his thing. For the performance, he was designated the line leader, which I am pretty sure was a position earned and not given. He has done wonderfully at this preschool and we will miss it (although not the tuition!).
/3/ I promised a picture of Will at his soccer practice last time.
/4/ We accidentally found out that Mango loves to play with balloons! He's such a silly and playful little guy. We all still love having him around, although he has been into eating cicadas lately and it's messing up his digestive system.
/5/ Anna had her second piano recital! This year she played one song on her own (Minuet) and one duet with her teacher (When the Saints Go Marching In). Last year I was so worried that she would chicken out the last minute and refuse to go up. This year I was less worried because she already had one year under her belt, AND I also promised her a “Beanie Boo” that she was really excited about so I knew she was motivated.
Well…she made one minuscule mistake which probably no one noticed except me, her teacher and herself, but otherwise did a superb job! I am so relieved that the recital is over and I can relax until next year. Truthfully, piano is a daily struggle for us because of Anna’s reluctance to practice. I am well aware that our evenings could be a lot more peaceful if I let piano go, but I am not. In fact, I am about to start Will on it too :)

/6/ My Mother’s Day cake from Wegmans :)
^^”Go big or go home,” hubs said when he placed the order.^^

It was vanilla cake with fruit filling and whipped icing....just what I requested.
^^My Mother's Day 2017 stash from the kids!^^
^^A nice outing to Meadowlark Gardens.^^

/7/ Lastly, my evenings have been overtaken by this new Taiwan show that I am currently hooked on. All the heart eyes for Chen Che, hahaha ;)

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Ode to Joy

by Guest
I've been meaning to post this for 2 years now, right after I bought my current car. But laziness has simply kept me from lifting a finger - same goes for my goal of losing weight or learning to play the guitar. It wasn't until my baby got hurt that I knew I should get off my butt and put these thoughts down. So here it is, a post to my darling car!

But first, a trip down memory lane... My very first car was a used 1988 Honda Accord coupe that my dad picked up for me back in the early 90s for $6k. I learned to drive in that baby. It was a base DX model with a maroon exterior, but it had friggin pop-up headlights! Best of all, it was a 5-speed manual! Sadly, affordable digicams had not been invented yet, so I have no pictures of her other than what's held in some neurons upstairs. Once I finished undergrad back in 1999, it was time to replace her. So what did I get? A brand new 1999 Honda Accord coupe, that's what! Of course, it too had a manual tranny, a beautiful 5-speed. She was a bump up in class because she had a moon roof, all for less than $20k! Luckily, I do have some pictures of her.

^^Never mind the fall foliage, look at that beautiful car!^^

^^No, that's not Mango, that's Pargo! And damn that's a big shifter, I don't remember it being so tall.^^

Anyways, other cars have come and gone in my life but my first two cars are the ones that I'll always cherish. Once the kids came into the picture, I tried to accept the world of 4-door automatics, but every day I drove around town, a little bit of me died. Seriously folks, my life-span has decreased from not having my shifter and clutch!

Several years later, I finally decided that my joy of life was more important than the comfort of my family. Is that being selfish? Not really, if I'm dead, who will be here to drive them around? So I started car shopping! But my oh my have times changed. Trying to find a used manual transmission car in the DC metro area is not that easy. Toss in the fact that car manufacturers have given consumers like me the middle finger, made the pickings even slimmer. There are countless stories online that cover this sad sad predicament, so I'll just link to them here and here and here.

Eventually, after a year of searching Autotrader and Craigslist, I finally found her, a used BMW F32 for $35k with a 6-speed stick! I was hesitant to make the move to the Germans from the bullet proof world of Honda, but one gets desperate after a year of searching. Plus, the whole CPO thing gave me some sort of comfort. Behold...the meaning of life!

^^I missed you so much!^^

^^My left foot now has a purpose!^^

And what goes best with a shifter? A proper handbrake! Seriously folks, I throw up in my mouth each time I see what's happening these days with those parking buttons.

^^Look ma, no buttons! Oh wait...^^

I completely forgot to snap a picture of the moon roof, but it's there. The kids don't seem to mind the two doors too much. It's nice and cozy compared to the cavernous minivan. Honestly, these simple little things are all I need in a car. I know the market isn't really there in the US and the car makers are in business to make money. So I'll keep trucking along in my little baby until she costs too much to run. By then, maybe I can just sit on my old fat ass and let the autonomous cars do all the work.

I guess that's all for now. Maybe after I get a heart-attack or lose my hearing, I'll chime in again on my weight and guitar.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Art Friday, No. 6

I will have a new catch ups post later this week, but I just found this Art Friday post in the draft folder that never got published. Obviously, it's not Friday yet, but here's to a happy Monday and a great week :) The weather is looking amazing!
Anna's Sketch
Anna's Sketch 3
Anna's Sketch 4
(by Anna : age 7)

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

wednesday morning catch ups.

Picking up from where we left off...

/1/The week after Easter Sunday, Luke was in Atlanta for work for a couple of days. As usual, the kids slept with me on my bed, with Mango keeping watch.
This time, in addition to two kids, I had a dog to take care of too. I ended up leaving work a little early each day so I can come home first to let Mango out (and to clean up the mess) before doing school pick-ups. It all went fine :)
/2/ Anna's elementary school hosted a STEM Night and it really was a lot fun...not to mention a perfect way to kill some time while solo parenting. There were about 20 STEM activities for the kids to participate in. In addition to giving Anna an opportunity to hang out with her friends, my favorite part of the evening was this photo opportunity right when you walked in:
^^I know I am biased, but Will is so cute :) Oh, he's also all registered for Kinder!^^

/3/ Anna finally lost a top tooth and the Tooth Fairy visited!
/4/ Will started U5 soccer with Luke as the assistant coach. They are the Orange Crush, haha. I haven't been to a practice yet, but when do I will take a picture of him on the field :) Right now it isn't a huge time commitment because practice is only once a week. However, if we continue in the fall with U6, it will be practice on a weekday and a game on the weekend. Will loves soccer, but we will see if he likes playing in a league enough to continue.
/5/ We have been going to several birthday parties, and this one at the bowling alley was my favorite. One, it was a new experience since we have never gone bowling as a family, and two, Wegman's cake. Seriously, soooo good. I am counting down to Mother's Day because I am getting myself a cake from there!
/6/ Both kids just happened to tie dye shirts at school.
/7/ Luke's sister's family was in town for a visit and they stayed with us for two nights. Remember these babies? They are almost 10 months old now. Unfortunately we didn't get to hang out too much because they visited on a Monday and Tuesday and we still had school and work obligations. Still, it was nice to see the babies and we will be meeting again at the end of June.
/8/ The kids are back in the water and this time we signed them up for semi-private lessons. The plan (at least my plan) is for them to be comfortable in the water again in time for summer. This year they will have swim daily at camp, so hopefully lots of time to practice. The lessons is every Tuesday afternoon at 4:30pm, which means we are officially one of those families that I said I wouldn't want to become with kids activities after school. But with the potential of soccer (#4) in the future, we might as well start, right?
/9/ We renewed our Meadowlark Gardens membership. This time we had to get the more expensive option ("family" instead of "individual") because Anna is no longer free. So now we need to visit 4 times to get our money's worth. One down, three more to go.
/10/ Not even two weeks after Anna lost her first top tooth, she lost another one! Actually, Luke pulled it out. The tooth was hanging so loose that Anna was having trouble eating, so Luke made an executive decision to pull it out using a dental floss. It was traumatic, but I think the anticipation of it was worse than the actual process. Later Anna did say that she was happy that the tooth is finally out. I thought we would get a break with loose teeth, but now another one is wiggling...
/11/ It seems like I have been including the movies we watched in these catch ups posts, so the movie for this post is Homeward Bound. Kids loved it and now I remembered why I loved that movie too!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Spring Break 2017: KK Donuts, Route 11 Potato Chips, Burnside Farms

On the last day, just before we got on I-81 to leave Harrisonburg, we stopped by Krispy Kreme for some donuts. The kids have had plenty of Krispy Kreme donuts before, but this was only the second time they have been inside a KK store. The first time was at Myrtle Beach, but, of course, being 3 and 1 at that time, they don't remember a thing. The best thing about traveling as they get older is that they will actually have some sort of recollection of the trips now :)
There is nothing like warm fresh donuts. We got a dozen of them.
Our next stop is along I-81, Route 11 Potato Chips in Mount Jackson. It was fun for all of us to watch chips being made, sample all the flavors, and purchase snacks to take home. The staff members were super friendly and gave us a brief and informative tour of the viewing area.
Their best-seller is "Lightly Salted" and unfortunately, that's the only one I can recommend. The other flavors we bought, "Mama Zuma's Revenge" and "Sour Cream N Chive", were way too salty. Funny how they didn't taste that salty when we sampled them at the factory though. Nevertheless, this less-than-30-minute pit stop was worth our time and allowed us to stretch our legs before moving on.
Finally, our last stop was just 40 minutes away from home, Burnside Farms!

This was by far the most anticipated part of the entire trip for me. I found out about this little "Holland in Haymarket" a few weeks prior and was just dying to go. It worked out sooooo perfectly. I had been checking in daily on their FB page to see when they would be opening, and when they finally announced the date, it just happened to be the day we were passing it on the way home from our road trip! As I said, perfect.
Although timing worked out perfectly, the farm was subpar. Yes, tulips as far as eyes can see, but that's it...? Plus, there were some opening day glitches (biggest for me was that the dutch wooden shoe display was not set up yet -- missed photo op!)  that made the entire experience just OK. The admission was $6 per person (off-peak price) and the tulip was a dollar each, so not exactly a bargain. I limited the kids to two stems each :) I will say that the flowers lasted for a week after we got store tulips never last that long for me.
^^This is when I told the kids "no more pictures!" and they ran all the way to the bounce features (far left).^^

So this was our Spring Break 2017. Nothing warm and beachy, but at least we got away for a few days. Last year was similar -- we went to Roanoke Virginia. Maybe it's inadvertently becoming a tradition of ours to explore different parts of VA during Spring Break :) I don't mind. Small close-to-home trips are really just as good as those far-away ones.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!