Wednesday, August 30, 2017

summer stories

I couldn't bear to throw these cute stories away, but I also don't want extra papers around the house. So what to do? Scan them and post on the blog! :)
(by Anna : age 7) 
Translation: We went to Williamsburg with Mama's family. We played with Andrew our cousin. He had lots of trains. Me and Will played with his trains. It was fun. We also went to Busch Gardens and Water Country. It was so much fun there. We miss Williamsburg, but we like home too!

(by Will : age 5) 
Translation: I love camp because I like it because we play zip zap.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Camp Mama 2017

This past week I took the entire week off to stay home with the kids. It was their last few days of summer break, I had extra hours with my part time work status, so I figured we could have a staycation of some sort at home. My goal was to take them around on local field trips. We called it Camp Mama :) It turned out to be a fantastic week. We all enjoyed it very much. Next year I plan to do two weeks, maybe even three if I can swing it :)

On the first day of camp, we came up with camp rules and taped it on the wall:
Monday: We went to Upton Hill Regional Park, first to play mini golf and then to the water park. Thanks to our summer reading program coupon books, the activities were completely free for the kids. Then we saw the solar eclipse in the afternoon! This day ended up being the kids' favorite day of the week!
Tuesday: We met up with my friend and her kids and rode the metro into DC. It was a hot day and could have easily been another pool day, but I wanted to go to the butterfly pavilion at the Natural History Museum (free on Tuesday). Besides the butterfly pavilion, also new to us on this visit was the kid-friendly discovery room. Then we went next door to the American History Museum.
Wednesday: We drove about two and half hours round-trip to visit Great Country Farms in Bluemont, VA. My purpose was to do some peach picking, but that turned out to be a very small part of our trip. I think we were there for over 3 hours, but the actual peach picking part was only 30 minutes. The kids loved the 5-acre family playground that included mazes, rope/obstacle course, slides, etc. It was a great place to spend the day, but admittedly a very far drive. (Tip: Get this deal from CertifiKid if you go!)
Thursday: I have long wanted to visit Yards Park and we finally made it happen :) The kids had fun splashing in the water...and that was about it? In the afternoon we went to another mini golf course (free of course :)).
Friday: It was open house at the elementary school and afterwards we went bowling with some friends. It was Anna's first time bowling!
Some thoughts:
- We didn't spend too much at all on Camp Mama. Most of the activities were free, and I packed lunch on most days. Altogether, we definitely spent less than $100, which is a lot cheaper than real camps (averaged $600/wk for both kids).
- Next year when we do Camp Mama again, I will have a lot more pool days, because the kids have the most fun in the water.
- Overall, kids were super, super good the entire week. I enjoyed spending time with them!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

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!
^^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 :)
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.
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.
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.
^^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!
/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
/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 :)
/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! 
/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.
(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.)
/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!