Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Linna's final thoughts as a 5-year-old.

Every year (starting at age 2), I've recorded a video of our oldest right before she goes to sleep on the eve of her birthday (I'll do this with Jimmy too). I ask her questions about her current favorite things, and then ask her to give her "final words/thoughts as a __-year-old". She loves going back to watch these videos, and so do I.

Here are the videos starting from age 2, through age 5. Her little voice has changed so much!

Happy 6th birthday, Linna!

(Linna, age 5)

(Linna, age 4)

(Linna, age 3)

(Linna, age 2)

Monday, August 7, 2017

To my almost 6-year-old.

My how time flies. Tomorrow, our first-born will turn 6 years old! And this fall, our baby girl will be in first grade. She's the little love-bug that inspired this blog nearly 7 years ago, when we found out that she was growing inside my belly.

Miss Linna, you are a sensitive, creative, sassy little lady, that truly keeps us on our toes. This year has opened my eyes to the reality that you are 100% your mother's daughter. Your wit, sass, and argumentative personality will serve you well in life, but also drives your mama crazy. You are quite the little diva, but also have an incredibly loving soft-spot for your baby brother. I know how much he annoys you, but your love for him is truly heart-warming. Your baby brother is your biggest fan, and you are his first role-model, teacher, and best friend. I wish you could see how lost he is when you aren't around.

Your love for learning, curiosity, and desire to follow the rules, while still pushing the limits, will take you far in life. You're so kind to everyone you meet, and I hope you continue to spread that gift. The giggles and laughter that come out of you every day are infectious. Your jokes and stories are always surprising, and give life to our home and family. I love that you want to marry me and live in our house forever. I hope this never changes.

I think you're really going to find your place on the dance stage this year, as well as in the classroom. While you're losing a handful of your kindergarten classmates to different teachers this year, I have no doubt that you will make new friends, and keep the old. You'll all be back together sooner than you know. I am so inspired by your thirst for knowledge, and your interest in the Chinese culture and language. You're the "spice" that brings together our "Asian-American" family.

Look how much you've grown, kiddo!

We are so proud of the little lady you have become, and are anxious to watch you grow even more as a 6-year-old. But seriously, slow down. How are you 6?! I hope you always keep your innocence, your baby face, and your love for your family... Especially the love you have for me.

XO,

Mama

Thursday, July 27, 2017

2017 back-to-school fashions.

Click the photo above to watch video of this entire segment. The below post contains
affiliate links. However, all thoughts are my own.

When it comes to back-to-school fashion, getting more "bang for your buck" is always the way to go. While I love shopping at second-hand stores like Once Upon a Child, Children's Orchard, and even garage sales, it's always nice to be able to buy our kiddos a few brand new outfits to make the start of the school year a little more exciting. There's some good sales happening right now, and all prices (below) are accurate as of the publish time and date of this post. I was so excited to be back on The Jason Show this week with our soon-to-be first-grader, and a few of her buddies/cousins, to showcase some of these great looks.

Cute kiddos on The Jason Show

Happy shopping!

Dress by Crazy8 : $17.42
Tights by Gymboree: $9.71
Ankle Boots by Gymboree: $29.96

(GymBucks: Save $25 on every $50 spent, through 7/31/17)

Shirt by Cat & Jack for Target: $8.99
Jeans by GAP Kids: $24.00
Hat by Cat & Jack for Target: $5.99

Short-sleeve "Meow" top by H&M Kids: $4.99
Joggers by H&M: $14.99

Ankle Boots by Gymboree: $29.96
(H&M: Get 20% OFF a $60+ purchase online, 7/31/17 - 8/6/17, and in-store through 8/13/17)

(GymBucks: Save $25 on every $50 spent, through 7/31/17)

Hoodie by Cat & Jack for Target: $10.00
Patchwork Jeans by Cat & Jack for Target: $17.99 
Backback by Gymboree: $27.71
(GymBucks: Save $25 on every $50 spent, through 7/31/17)
Head-to-toe look from Crazy8

Denim Jacket by Gymboree: $28.79
Dress by H&M Kids: $17.99
Purse by H&M Kids: $12.99

Ankle Boots by Gymboree: $29.96
(H&M: Get 20% OFF a $60+ purchase online, 7/31/17 - 8/6/17, and in-store through 8/13/17)
(GymBucks: Save $25 on every $50 spent, through 7/31/17)

Star Dress by Gymboree: $26.21
Sparkle Tights by Gymboree: $9.71
Headband by Gymboree: $6.71

(GymBucks: Save $25 on every $50 spent, through 7/31/17)

Dress by H&M Kids: SOLD OUT
Boots by Cat & Jack for Target: $24.99
Purse by H&M Kids: $12.99
(H&M: Get 20% OFF a $60+ purchase online, 7/31/17 - 8/6/17, and in-store through 8/13/17)

Poncho by GAP Kids: $44.00 (sale price)
White Stain-Resistant Skinny Jeans by GAP Kids: $29.99 (sale price)

Entire Outfit by Crazy8

Entire Outfit by H&M

Entire Outfit by Gymboree
(GymBucks: Save $25 on every $50 spent, through 7/31/17)

Entire Outfit by Cat & Jack for Target

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Our experience with hellofresh.

A couple months ago, we decided to give HelloFresh a try, after my sister and brother-in-law raved about it and gave us a free (three-meal) trial. For the first time in almost six years, I started working full-time (for six weeks), so I needed to figure out a way to make our dinner-planning a little bit easier. Here are the pros and cons of our month-long experience of the HelloFresh meal-delivery service (and yes, we're still using it)...

Crushed Peppercorn Steak


PROS

Convenience: I downloaded the HelloFresh app to my phone, and I'm able to skip weeks, select my weekly meals, etc. It couldn't be easier. We selected the two-person (three meals per week) plan. Now that our almost six-year-old is becoming interested in the dinners we're eating, we might need to think about upgrading to the family meal-plan.

Ease: Our meals are delivered to our doorstep on the first day of the week, and I put the boxes right into our refrigerator. All of the ingredients for each meal come in a box that fits nicely in our refrigerator, and I put the protein (meat or fish) in our freezer or fridge. While I do need to chop all of the veggies, garlic, etc., all of the ingredients are fresh, and come portioned and packaged, which makes dinner-prep very easy. Plus, I do like prepping meals in the kitchen, but I don't like doing ALL the work.

New Go-To Recipes: I'm always looking for new, healthy, easy recipes for family dinners. So when I prep and cook a "winning" HelloFresh meal, I add it to my recipe book, and shop for the ingredients myself without having to use the HelloFresh service (which is more cost-effective). We've added so many new recipes to our meal rotation after starting HelloFresh.

Taste/Portion Size: While we've had one or two "eh" meals, a majority of the meals we've tried from HelloFresh have been really tasty. A couple of our favorites are the Speedy Springtime Pasta, Montery Jack Burger with Red Onion Marmalade and Crispy Zuccini Fries (this one is SO good), Crushed Peppercorn Steak (I loved this, but Papa Saigh wasn't a fan), and Crispy Chicken Milanese. When you look at the ingridents that come inside each box, you might think to yourself, "this isn't going to fill us up". However, Papa Saigh and I have been completely satisfied after finishing our HelloFresh meals (and we are big eaters), even after the almost six-year-old samples what we're eating for dinner.



CONS

Immediacy: Because of the freshness of the ingredients, you need to cook your meals sooner rather than later. We actually freeze the meat/fish that won't be cooked until day three, so it won't go bad. However, if you know you're going to be out of town, eating out, etc., you can always skip a week (or as many weeks as you'd like), so you don't waste food.

Cost: While I don't think the cost of each HelloFresh meal is extraordinary, it is less expensive to grocery shop and meal-plan on your own. However, I often find that when I try to save money by grocery shopping and meal-planning, I usually end up going the easy and unhealthy drive-through route, or order in pizza. This adds up, and often ends up costing more than the cost of our daily HelloFresh meal.

Dishes: HelloFresh needs to come up with a way to send a "dish fairy" along with each delivery. While prepping and cooking our HelloFresh meals is pretty easy-peasy, there are dishes to be done after the meal prep.

Overall, we are happy with our experience with HelloFresh. There's no commitment, so you can skip as many weeks as you'd like (at no cost), and cancel anytime. Here's the best part: You can save money on your HelloFresh weekly deliveries by using our code F476HG. This link/code will get you $40 off your first HelloFresh delivery. Give it a try, and let us know what you think!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

DIY with mama saigh: Pool noodles.

They're a buck at the dollar store, and they're more than just a pool floatie. A pool noodle can be turned into so many different things, and I was asked to show some of these clever ideas on The Jason Show this week. Check out the video from my segment for even more simple ideas!



POOL CHAIR FLOATIE


Our adorable neighbor, Kate, floating in the DIY pool noodle chair.
You'll need two pool noodles for this project, as well as 7+ zip-ties and a mesh laundry bag (all found at the Dollar Tree).
Start by cutting one pool noodle in half , leaving you with two equal parts. Then, make a half circle with the full pool noodle, and use zip-ties to secure one of the half noodles to the full noodle, on both ends. With two more zip-ties, secure the other half-noodle on top of the ends of the full pool noodle. This is the base for your pool noodle chair.

Next, remove the string from your mesh laundry bag, and fold the bag in half (length wise). Drape the bag over the lower, shorter pool noodle, and then secure the ends of the bag to the curved side of the full pool noodle, using zip-ties.

Cut the excess plastic off the tip-ties, and VOILA! A pool-chair floatie for $4.

PONY PARTY FAVORS

This is an easy, practical, and adorable party favor to send your guests home with. All you need is a pool noodle (for each pony), ribbon/rope, ribbon for pony's mane (curled with scissors), googly eyes (or eyes you can print off Google images), and some party hats. You can make these party favors look like unicorns, or ranch horses. Just use your creativity! For our daughter's 6th birthday party in August, we're sending each kiddo home with one of these gems!

CAR/MARBLE RACES

Marble/Car Races.

KID'S PLAYING-CARD HOLDER

Cut a 3/4 to 1-inch piece off a pool noodle, to form an "O". Using a sharp knife, slice a length-wise slit at the top of the piece. This will be where you insert the cards. This is a great way for little hands to be able to hold a hand of playing cards!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Review: Nucleus

We were so excited when we were asked to review the brand new Nucleus system: A home intercom system that works on wifi, and connects families all over the globe using a mobile smart-phone app. We have a 5.5-year old (going on 15) who is consistently asking for her own cell phone, and while that isn't an option, we thought that the Nucleus system could be a "happy-medium".

So, what exactly is the Nucleus system?



Nucleus is a video monitor that you set up in any rooms in your home. They can be used as video security when you're not at home, a home intercom-system, baby monitor, and a way for you and your family to connect face-to-face at your convenience. You give access to anyone you'd like, and set the security level at your discretion.

We received three monitors and set them up in our 5.5-year-old's bedroom, the family/rec room, and main floor of our house. Setting these devices up was super simple, and our kids were excited to get involved too. I just followed the step-by-step instructions on the monitor, typed in some codes, hopped on our wifi connection, and TA-DAH! I then sent our access code and Nucleus app link to our kids' grandparents, aunts, and uncles, so they could download the Nucleus app on their smart phones, and have access to our Nucleus systems. Basically, our daughter could video-call these family members from the Nucleus device in her room, whenever she'd like (although we are able to set the security and privacy for the monitor), and these family members can video-call her Nucleus monitor in her room whenever they'd like. We are able to set the monitor on "private" at night, or whenever we didn't want her using it. Each contact/person has their photo next to his/her name, and connection is made with the press of a button. As parents, we have complete control of the security and privacy of these monitors.

Linna and Jimmy making a Nucleus video-call.

I loved having these systems in our home when I was working full-time for six weeks outside the home. During this time, we had some amazing in-home childcare, and our Nucleus systems allowed me to connect with my home and kids at my convenience/discretion. As an "admin", I would set the systems to ring before they automatically connected, or enable the person at home to answer the device before it connected. Our kids could video-call me as well while I was at work, which they did often (and I loved seeing their little faces). We did, however, run into a "mishap" one day, when my daughter decided to video-call me on her Nucleus, after our nanny had told her that she was supposed to be in her room having a "quiet time". As a result, we ended up taking the Nucleus out of Linna's bedroom until she could earn it back... Which she has.

Overall, I love having the convenience of monitoring our kids when they're in another room (especially the toddler, as he's into EVERYTHING), and monitoring our home when we're away. Our family members like having the ability to video-call the kids, without having to call my phone first. It gives our oldest a little slice of independence, while I'm able to monitor it all. I know that kids these days are getting cell phones at younger ages, but there is not a chance that our soon-to-be 6-year-old is anywhere near ready for one. Every once in awhile, we'll get really crappy video clarity on both ends, but this is due to us living in the boonies, where we have a very slow wifi speed. We're working to get a better one.

Our Nucleus on our main floor.

We haven't done this yet, but Nucleus can connect with Alexa (Amazon's cloud-based voice service) to give you news/weather updates, play music, and control other smart devices in your home. I need to get on that one, STAT! While the cost of a Nucleus system isn't "cheap" ($149+), you can try it for up to 60 days with easy returns. There's no "monthly fees/costs" involved once you've purchased your devices, as they just run off your home's wifi. It's totally worth giving it a try, because you really don't have anything to lose!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Jimmy says "no way".

At 19 months old, this kid is surprising us every day with new words and phrases. Here's Jimmy's latest...