Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Back to School 2017-2018

Back to School felt VERY big for our family this year – both kids are finally at the same school. One drop off, one pick up, and nooooo more daycare bills. Hooray!
Anna and Will First Day of Second Grade and Kindergarten 2017-2018
We have entered a new stage of parenting!

Three weeks into the new school year, I can safely say that Will is rocking kindergarten. He has transitioned seamlessly. I am sure having Anna there helped, but I am also positive that the reason why Anna is also doing so well is because she has Will. In time like this, I am so glad that they have each other to depend on and watch over each other.

Our schedule looks like this: I drop the kids off at before-care at around 7:20am and meet them back at school for pick up at 4:05pm. GET THIS -- at drop off, I don't even get out of the car anymore. I push a little button and the minivan door slides open, both kids get out, walk into the building and classroom, wave me goodbye at the window and I drive off. A-MAH-zing.

Anyway, through some nudging on my part, Will has Anna's old kindergarten teacher, Ms. R, who I love. For some reason, she especially adores Anna and when she found out that Will is on her class list, she excitedly emailed me to let me know. This was BEFORE we got the classroom assignment in the mail. haha. I have no doubt that this is going to be a great year for Will. He says that his favorite part about school is "playing with Ayaan" and least favorite is quiet time :)

As for Anna, second grade seems to demand more academically. When I asked, she said that second grade is "okay", no longer "easy" like she had said about the previous years. I guess I will just need to gather all my patience superpower and work on things with her at home.
^^The school theme for this year!^^

Here's to a great school year! I hope to have many happy news to share as we journey through the next 9 months!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Dairy Days at Sully Plantation

A couple of weeks ago, I took the kids to Sully Plantation in Chantilly (VA). It was another place I have long wanted to visit :) My plan was to just walk around and visit the buildings (nearly all original from the late 18th century), such as the main house, dairy house, smoke house, etc. I knew there was a special event, Dairy Days, happening that day, but at $7 per person, I was planning on skipping it.

However, once we got there and the kids saw that they could make their own ICE CREAM, they begged to do it. So, thanks to their generous grandma (who was along for the trip), they did :)

On top of hand-cranking their very own vanilla ice cream, they also learned the process of churning and washing butter and played some historic games.
Haha, for some reason, we were the only ones there for the special event. I guess it wasn't all that popular ;) Since the kids were the only participants, they did all the muscle work. The two of them took turns going between ice cream cranking and butter churning and did all the work. The end result was extra sweet.
I thought Sully Plantation was very nice, but on its own, the kids probably wouldn't have gotten much out of it. Hopefully, with the hands-on activities from Dairy Days, they will have some kind of recollection. Maybe next summer, we will do the house (above) tour during Camp Mama. I can't wait :)

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

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!