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!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Spring Break 2017: Massanutten Resort

Living in Northern Virginia, there are places you hear over and over again as good places for kids. With Massanutten Resort being one of them, I was thrilled that we had the opportunity to go there during Spring Break. As I said in my previous post, Massanutten is just outside of Harrisonburg, which is about a two-hour drive for us. Now that the kids are older (7 and 5), short drives like this don't phase me anymore. I give them a tablet each and they are good to go.
We stayed at a large 2 bed/2 bath unit in Woodstone Meadows. It was honestly pretty big, with the living and dining area being much bigger than I expected. The kitchen had everything we needed to cook breakfast and simple dinner. The only thing we didn't realize was that toiletries were not provided. I always travel with my own shampoo and conditioner, but the ONE time I didn't bring them (because we were only staying 2 nights) was the one time I needed them.... Go figure! Other than that, I was really happy with everything else.
^^When we first arrived, waiting to check-in.^^

Prior to the trip, as I was doing research on the resort, I learned that nearly all resort activities cost extra. And not only were they expensive, but some really dumb too. Like, there was a workshop on how to take selfies using your phone. Umm...what? A class on tie-dye was $15, petting zoo was $7, tubing was $8. Basically the place charges an arm and a leg for everything, so we stuck with the free things - pool and playground - and just used the resort as a home base to explore Harrisonburg
^^Can you spot my two kids?^^
^^The view from our balcony.^^
^^One of the major attractions of Massanutten is probably their water-park. Kids really wanted to go, but they only made it this far :)^^

Now that I have been to Massanutten, I am still trying to figure out what's the major draw. Except for skiing in the winter, there is not a resort activity at Massanutten that can't be done at a cheaper price elsewhere. It's likely that we will never go again, but I am definitely not complaining that we got to experience it either. The kids, of course, loved it and were in heaven. They must have clocked in close to 3-4 hours of TV daily. Yikes.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Spring Break 2017: 5 Things To Do With Kids In Harrisonburg Virginia

Last week the kids were on Spring Break.

Actually, to be completely accurate, Anna was on Spring Break...Will's school was still in session, but since Anna was home, we just kept him home as well. We didn't plan to go anywhere originally, but we ended up finding ourselves about 2 hours away from home in Harrisonburg (Shenandoah Valley) for 2 nights/3 days. It was a very low key and inexpensive trip. The single most expensive thing we spent on was boarding the dog. Money aside though, we found Mango a very good pet sitter and it was great knowing that he was having fun while we were doing the same. Without further ado, here is a list of notable things we did in H'burg!

1. Harrisonburg Farmers Market
At this moment, the farmers market in downtown Harrisonburg is open twice a week, on Tuesday and Saturday, so we totally lucked out that our short stay included one of those days. The unfortunate part was that since it was still so early in the season, vendors were sparse. However, the most important one was there...a homemade lollipop stand :) The lollipops were 50 cents each and came in assorted shapes. Both kids got the bunny shape, and they behaved like angels for the rest of the day, just happily sucking on their lollipop as we drove around. Best dollar spent.

2. A Dream Come True Playground
This playground, just outside of JMU, is very similar to Clemyjontri up here in Northern VA. We spent about an hour here, enjoying the sunshine. After the kids got all hot and sweaty, we cooled down at...

3. Kline's Dairy Bar
^^"I have a brain freeze!"^^

When I was doing research on things to do in Harrisonburg, Kline's Dairy Bar kept on popping up, so I decided it was a must visit. Surprisingly, they only have 3 flavors available on any given day -- chocolate, vanilla and the special favor of the week. When we visited, it was strawberry. So, anyway, we got vanilla and strawberry. The ice cream was indeed very good, the kids scraped their cups clean, but turned out the lavender lemon ice cream we had later was even better. But, I want to remember that as we were eating our ice cream next to the parking lot, an old gentleman walked by and said to me, "You have nice kids."

4. White Oak Lavender Farm
For $3 per person, we got to enjoy more great outdoors in a beautiful surrounding. The lavenders were not in bloom yet (we were told not until June), but it was still a great visit. We saw some farm animals and the kids really liked chasing those ducks. Definitely one of the top memories from the entire trip.
By the way, if you ever find yourself at White Oak Lavender Farm, do not skip their homemade ice cream. We got the lavender lemon flavor and it was SO good. Lightly flavored, creamy and delicious! Yes we had a lot of ice cream on this trip!
5. Massanutten Resort
We stayed at Massanutten Resort, which is about 15-20 minutes away from Harrisonburg. This is probably not the best picture to depict Massanutten, but watching TV was what the kids did the most. And having a TV in their own room? Mind blown. I will elaborate on Massanutten in my next post.

Overall, we enjoyed our time in Harrisonburg. It wasn't overly exciting by any means, but it was nice to spend some slow quality time together away from work and school.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

tuesday morning catch ups.

Time for another catch ups post!

/1/ Will's school puts on a music show every year and this year, it happened back in March. Having attended the last two years (2015 and 2016), I was feeling meh about the whole thing. I mean, the show didn't start until 7:30pm, which is when the children are usually in bed, and I just haaaate messing with routine, especially when it cuts into my TV time, ha. Well, it turned out to be a great show, definitely worth the later bedtime and missed shows :) I adored seeing Will dance and perform on stage! The last few songs sang by the kindergartners (but the whole school performed in the back) brought back so much memories as well. I think I actually teared up during "The Tree Song." In two short months, we will be saying goodbye to this school forever. It's going to be the saddest day ever.
^^So handsome! Click here for a picture comparison -- same shirt!^^

/2/ We got a hammock for the screened-in porch and it has been a great source of entertainment for the kids. On a good day when they get along really well, they can spend hours out there. It's great for me because they are outside, but I don't need to keep an eye on them like I do if they are out in the front yard.
/3/ Mr. Mango is settling in well with the family. He's becoming really good at letting us know when he needs to go outside. He will hang around by the front door, waiting for us to notice him. Or sometimes he will even ring the bell that we have hanging by the door. And to the kids, he's still the best thing ever.
/4/ I didn't "go" anywhere to view the cherry blossoms this year, but when I saw the cherry trees in bloom at the elementary school, I took the shot below. I didn't filter it or anything, the sky was really that blue that day. So pretty, right?!
/5/ April Fool's Day....and this was the only trick I got:
/6/ We went away for 2 nights/3 days for Spring Break. I will blog about it soon!
/7/ The day before Easter, I came across this cute idea and just had to try it out before the kids get any bigger. #nailedit
The kids ended up drawing their own set of bunny ears.

Both kids said MY egg hunt was the best one ever!
/8/ Lastly, family movies this month: Monster House and Leap! Also, Luke took Will to see Power Rangers in the theater.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Friday, April 14, 2017

easter egg hunts 2017 (& two strategies for attending those free ones)

This year as I was searching for Easter egg hunts to take the kids, I noticed that a lot of them have an age cap at 8 years old...which means Anna’s egg hunt years are almost numbered! Sad face! So, I decided to take the kids to more than one hunt this year just to make sure we are all sick and tired of them by the end. Now, I swore off those free egg hunts a few years ago due to a bad experience, but this year, I had two strategies up my sleeves to make them enjoyable. The egg hunts we attended are listed below, along with my strategies :)

EGGnormous Egg Hunt (Lake Fairfax): We lucked out on this one and here is why. At the oldest age group (7-8), there was significantly less kids than all other age groups, so even though Will was supposed to be with another age group (5-6), he hunted with Anna instead. Strategy #1: Unless the age difference is really obvious, find the group with the least number of kids and get more eggs that way! I noticed that there were some really young kids at the oldest age group, but no one cared. I think as long as the kids move up, instead of down, it's okay. For example, I wouldn't let the kids hunt in the toddler group. The kids ended up getting a bunch of eggs here, but all just Tootsie rolls, so nothing too exciting.
Easter Eggstravaganza (Tysons Corner Mall): The egg hunt portion of this event was a mess. Everyone (adults and children) all moved in one direction and soooo many eggs got stepped on and cracked. But this turned out to be a great event for us because I did one of the smartest things ever. Strategy #2: Don’t try to do it all! In this case, we did do it all, but toward the end, instead of grabbing for more eggs, we went on with other free activities while other children were still scrambling for them. In fact, by the time we got our balloons and face painted, people were just starting to line up. WIN. My kids actually haven’t gotten their faces painted all that many times (maybe once or twice?), so it was awesome for them. Also, the Easter Bunny happened to be one of Anna’s before-care teachers from school, so we got extra attention :)
Old-Fashioned Egg Roll and Easter Fun (Vienna Town Green): There were a lot of people at this event but using Strategy #2, we still had a nice experience at this annual town tradition. While many people stood in line for more popular activities, when I saw the bounce house nearly empty, we went there instead.
SACC (Anna’s Before-Care) Eggstravaganza: I think the kids said this was their favorite because instead of just candies, there were small toys. Rubber duckies, erasers, yo-yos, stickers, tattoos, slinkies. Also, Anna was extra happy about this hunt because she got to help stuff the eggs that morning. In fact, it was a rainy day and I wasn’t even going to take the kids, but because Anna was so excited about it, I just had to :)

This weekend, on actual Easter, we will wrap it up with one last hunt. In our front yard :) And if I can get my act together and buy some lollipops, I will do this again.
easter coloring page_Will

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

first 33 days with Mango

I can't believe we have been a dog family for over a month already!
Here is a compilation of dog-related stuff that I want to remember:

-- The kids are still over-the-moon excited about having a dog.
-- They each have a job of making sure Mango has access to water and food whenever it's time, but they are not 100% reliable about it.
-- Luke and I are the main caretakers (surprise, surprise), but between me and him, it's definitely him more. He does all the grooming and washing. We brush him at least twice a day and wipe his eyes often too. Now instead of grabbing my phone to browse, I grab the brush.
-- Since Luke works from home, Mango spends the most time with him, yet whenever we are all laying on the couch, I am his favorite pick :)
-- We are working on basic commands - stay, come and stop. He doesn't listen well yet, so we have to leash him when we are out, even if it's just to go potty.
-- We recently found a pet sitter for Mango for when we are away. After talking to several boarding facilities, we just preferred a more home-like environment for Mango. Luckily our neighbors with 3 dogs recommended their sitter so we contacted her. She will be watching Mango for the first time next week. I hope it all works out and that we've found a long term solution.

-- If Mango does his business whenever we take him outside, he's free to roam around the house. One day last week it poured rain and I literally stood outside holding an umbrella for 20 minutes. Mango was drenched when he came back in, and no, he did not pee :(
-- Luke and I are obsessed with his little mouth, haha. We also find it very amusing that Mango is a "regular" dog that fetches and chases. We kept on comparing him to Pargo...who never fetched or chased...who was a cat in a dog's body.
-- It still makes me laugh to see him with his hind legs stretch out like this:
-- We don't let Mango sleep with us and we all get better sleep this way. Instead he sleeps in a portable crate that we put on top of the nightstand next to our bed. 

-- This is Mango's morning routine: In the morning, immediately after we wake up, we take him out to potty. After we come back home, he runs around the house and gives everyone kisses before we put the fence up so he can concentrate on his breakfast. After he's done with breakfast, he plays in the crate with all his toys. Then just as Anna and I leave for school/work, Luke lets him out for another potty break. It's working out pretty well!
-- When we sit down to eat dinner, that's when we put down his kibbles too. We have been giving Mango some table food, but ONLY after we are done eating. Now that he knows sometimes he will get better food, he will wait for it (but usually before we are actually done eating, he will have already started on his kibbles). One amazing thing about Mango is that he doesn't whine/beg for food. Pesto whined for food all the time, and that was sooo annoying.
--Now that we have a dog, I still think I would be absolutely fine without one too. But seeing the kids enjoying Mango so much is worth the trouble....sometimes :)

[+/-] Extra Sugar!