Sunday, February 19, 2017

sunday morning catch ups.

/1/ Valentine's Day 2017...the worst one ever. Not because there were no flowers or chocolates (not into those kind of stuff anyway), but because I accidentally drove out of the garage with my minivan sliding door still open. After the incident, I kept on replaying the accident in my head and thinking about all the what ifs. What if I didn't take Anna to school that morning (Luke was about to take her), what if Luke didn't reverse my car in the day prior (then I wouldn't be out of my routine), if if if! In the end, there is no one to blame except me. I wasn't careful. We already spent $1k to fix the van, and now will spend around the same to fix the garage. I wish we could just get rid of the two garage doors and covert it to one...since this isn't the first time I hit the garage 😞 I am no longer as depressed and sad as the first 48 hours, and life goes on, but #sorryhubs.
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^^There goes our vacation fund.^^

/2/ A lot of solo parenting this month once again while Luke was away for work. Luckily, my commute to work isn't all bad every single day. Some days I get a break in traffic and then it doesn't seem too bad at all :)
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Now that the kids are older, it's no longer just a one way conversation when Luke calls. We use Google Duo to stay in touch and this is him showing us New Mexico outside of his hotel room.
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/3/ Before I crashed into the garage on Valentine's Day, I made Will a "heart" banana. That was the extent of our Valentine's Day. Next year I want to plan ahead and make the kids some pink foods, haha. Oh, remember how we used to be creative with our school Valentine's, like this? Well, no one has time for that nonsense anymore...store-bought FTW this year!
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^^breakfast of champions^^

/4/ Will said he wanted to go to a museum so we went to the National Museum of Natural History (I think the kids spent more time playing Pokemon Go around the National Mall though)....
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and got pho at our favorite place on the way back (the best part of the outing).
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/5/ Anna got the flu and missed 4 days of school....so far. I hope she gets well enough for school on Tuesday. She is miserable and coughs nonstop. Yet I also feel like she's been so dramatic about it so my patience is running thin. Illness sucks and I hope we are at the end of the tunnel!
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/6/ Family movies: Moana, Trolls and Gremlins.

/7/ Other February happenings: DIY clings, piano tuning, glow stick bath, new blender = lots of smoothies, Will reading this Berenstain Bears book with help, and this beautiful pink sky.
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Sunday, February 12, 2017

my Taiwan photo book!!

I just added another book to my photo book collection!

Since I took all my Taiwan photos using my phone and the photos automatically sync to my Shutterfly account (love this feature!), making this photo books was extra simple and took very little time.

For the cover, I used a scenic picture I took at Jiufen.
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I still love the “big and multi” combo. I save the big photo for my favorite and then the multi tells more of a story.
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For example, this following spread was all about our Christmas Day. The "big" was the kids opening their Santa presents and the "multi" was pictures from Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall (中正紀念堂) and Longshan Temple (龍山寺), two places that we visited later that morning.
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I also find that using non-people photos (landscapes, food, toys) is a great way to make the spread look less busy and more interesting.
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I also tried my hand at designing my own layout for the Taichung spread.
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All my photo books have a miscellaneous spread (the Taiwan book actually has two) that covers all the random photos -- from the applesauce that I got for Anna (due to her stomach bug) to the instant noodle soup that Will loved so much. The kids kept on asking me, why did you take pictures of that?? I tell them, it's the little things that we want to remember :)
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The back cover has two pictures from our last morning in Taiwan, before heading to the airport.
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I am so glad to have this book to help me remember our Taiwan vacation. As hard as it was during the trip, now that we have settled back into our routine, the kids and I talk about our trip often and reminisce the Taiwan days :) Haha, we are looking forward to go back! Okay....maybe we are not quite there yet ;)

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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

thumbprint owls

This is a birthday card that Anna whipped up one day after school for her first grade teacher whose last name rhymes with owl. One, I thought it was very thoughtful of her to make a card, and two, thumbprint art is just the cutest!  

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Monday, January 30, 2017

monday morning catch ups. (the one where I talk mostly about my new commute and very little anything else.)

/1/ It's the end of January, so it's time to catch up on what we have been up to, which is not much at all, but I just have to document it anyway. The biggest and baddest (and I mean that literally) news this month is my new work commute. As I have mentioned it before, my work was moving...and now it finally did. Every morning I turn on Google Maps and watch the traffic go from orange to red to blood red while hollering at the kids to hurry up so I can HIT THE ROAD! It's not a pretty sight. Anyway, it's not that a 30-35 minute drive is all that bad in Northern Virginia, but it's knowing what I had before (3 minutes). Sigh, slowly but surely, I will stop complaining, but in the meantime...
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^^Getting across that bridge every morning is no small feat!^^

/2/ ...I am now working part-time! Long story short, yes, Luke could pick up Anna from school while I stay at work later to get all my hours in, but if I were to leave work at 4p, I could end up spending an hour in traffic vs. 25 minutes (driving home is faster) if I leave at 3:30p. So! I decided to work shorter hours to save me some sanity, but really it's not THAT short either. In the end, I am just working half an hour less than everyone else, but I will have 3-4 days off a month, which will come in handy during school breaks.

/3/ Last week Luke was in San Jose for work. It was the first time I had to do it all on my own with the new commute. The worst part was having to go out of the way to drop off Will at school. We left home even earlier at 7a to factor in the extra time it took to drop him off, but by the time I finally dropped off Anna, traffic was just that much worse. Luckily, my part time status had just kicked in that week, so I wasn't under too much pressure. Plus, the kids were so good all week and made things easy.
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^^When Luke is away, the kids sleep with me.^^
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^^7am and ready for school!^^

/4/ I decided that I am tired of borrowing 20 to 25 picture books every 2 weeks from the library and we are just going to read chapter books from now on. It took about 2 and half weeks, but we finally finished Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and immediately afterwards, we watched the movie. The Tim Burton version. After the movie, Anna made me proud by saying that she liked the book better. I think most adults would agree that books are generally better than movies, but to hear a kid say that? I was impressed :)

/5/ I stayed home with Anna on Inauguration Day. We spent the entire morning making Ham and Potato Soup and lemon bars.

/6/ For Luke's birthday this year I got these chocolate lava cakes from Trader Joe's. The kids didn't like them (probably too bitter), but I did :) All you have to do is pop them in the oven or microwave, and then drop a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. They were restaurant quality, but for a fraction of the cost ($3/box).
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^^Deeeeelicious!^^

/7/ Other January happenings: booking our annual Williamsburg vacation (done!), Shopkins, The Light Between Oceans, Will's excellent progress report, CNY with family, Totoro (movie, music, and plush), homemade cotton candy from Jolly Rancher (!), and planning for Spring Break and summer camps.
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Monday, January 23, 2017

2016 - A Review

I am not done with Taiwan posts yet, but I do want to do an year-in-review post before it’s too late. For our little family, 2016 was a good year. No major illness, no tremendous hardship. Of course, life with two little kids is chaotic and loud and frustrating much of the time, but in the end, it’s still full of goodness :)

After the holidays, January is always quiet. Thanks to Snowstorm Jonas that dumped at least a foot and half of snow, it seemed like the kids never went to school. We only made it worse by taking them out for another week for a vacation.
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We started out February on a Disney cruise ship. It wasn't all fun in the sun, but it was a terrific way to escape winter cold. I spent the rest of the month writing about our trip and making two photo books.
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Anna turned 6 in March and we had a little birthday party for her. Then over Spring Break, we took a trip down south to Roanoke VA where the hubs did some serious reminiscing. Oh, we also took the kids to an egg hunt!
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In April, we went with friends to the National Aquarium in Baltimore. I also wrote about our slow lifestyle with the kids, which can probably be translated into lazy parenting? (I am still struggling with this one.)
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Our May included: Clifford the Big Red Dog Live!, family/friends BBQ, birthday parties, piano recital, and PAYING OFF OUR MORTGAGE.
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The month of June always means the last day of school and an end-of-school-year trip to Williamsburg for our family, although spoiler alert, 2017 will be a bit different. We are going in July, and with extended family!
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I feel like all kids did in July and August was playing #pokemongo, but there were summer camps, local parks, and I can’t forget about that trip to NYC and Williamsburg (again!) at the end of summer.
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The kids returned to school in September.
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We attend our very first Disney on Ice in October. FOR FREE! And then the kids dressed up as Pikachu and Squirtle for Halloween.
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Will turned 5 in November and we celebrated in Dutch Wonderland! Later in the month, instead of staying in town like we usually do for Thanksgiving, we spent 48 hours away from home in Kentucky to meet my brother’s first kid!
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In December, we saw Santa before leaving for my biggest solo parenting stint ever in Taiwan. Read about our adventures here. Full of ups and downs!
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