Friday, March 22, 2013

Jenna's birthday

I know we're not the typical parents who throw birthday parties for their children every year, and I pray and hope that my children aren't scarred by that.  We just don't think it's necessary to invest gobs of money on a party every year.  Rather, as a family, we truly celebrate each person, and get excited about each other's birthdays! 

Jenna's last night of being 3!
 We decorated the hallway with streamers and balloons!
We also decorated Jenna's chair at the table with balloons!
The birthday girl is awake!
Our 4-year-old is ready for her birthday!

So, on Jenna's 4th birthday, she got to pick a friend to spend the day with (and Joshua did the same on his 4th birthday too).  Since her birthday fell on a Thursday, she had to go to preschool that morning.  I sent her with a homemade bag of chocolate candy to pass out to her friends as treats.  I'm sure her teachers and friends celebrated her because she had a birthday crown in her bag. 

The chocolate lollipop treats I made!

Jenna helping me with them.
After I picked Jenna and Aaron (her friend of choice) up from preschool, I swung by McDonald's and picked up 2 Happy Meals for them.  We then proceeded to JumpZone where we ate our lunch and the kids played. 
Aaron and Jenna eating their Happy Meal

We met some friends at JumpZone!

After I dropped Aaron home, Jenna and I spent some Mommy-Daughter time.  I took her to the Arboretum in South Barrington and went to Claire's.  I have always wanted to do something like this with my daughter, and it's so much fun to finally be able to do it!  Jenna got to pick out one item from Claire's, and she picked a "Hello Kitty" necklace.  Next, we went to Anna Shea's Chocolate Lounge for some "afternoon tea".  Well, I had tea, and I was hoping Jenna would enjoy some milk.  But she declined.  Nevertheless, we had a great time sitting there on the comfy couches, just the two of us!  I had my tea, and Jenna and I worked on putting her new Minnie Mouse bracelet together, which was a gift from Aaron.  I just loved everything about that afternoon!  I'm sure going to Anna Shea's will be a tradition!

Jenna and me at Anna Shea's Chocolate Lounge!
Chillin' with a game on my iPhone while I finish my tea.
We finished Jenna's bracelet.

Before heading home, we stopped by Mariano's to pick up Jenna's birthday cake.  She picked out a Tinkerbell one.  We were hosting our small group that evening, so we thought it would be fun to have everyone sing Happy Birthday to Jenna before she headed off to bed.

Our present to Jenna this year was a big girl bed.  She's finally transitioning from her toddler bed to a twin bed!  We bought the bed at Value City.  It looks almost like the Catalina bed from Pottery Barn Kids.  We liked it so much that we actually bought 2 of them (one for Becca when she's older).  It was affordable and we wanted the girls to have matching beds eventually.  So, why not. 

Jenna's new bed!  It took me a few years to purchase different pieces of this owl bedding set.
Jenna in her new bed!

In keeping with tradition, we tend to go somewhere as a family to celebrate the birthday boy or girl.  With Joshua, we've always gone to the zoo.  With Jenna, we've gone to the museums.  But this year, there was a Groupon to a Family Palooza in St. Charles that I thought would be kind of fun to take the family too.  We had a blast, and Jenna had so much fun!  I think her favorite thing is the bungee jump thing (I don't know what it's technically called).  But it's so like Jenna to enjoy something like that!  We ended the day with having brinner for was Jenna's choice!
I think this was the highlight of Jenna's day...meeting Rapunzel!

Enjoying Family Palooza!

Jenna in her element!  She loved the bungee jump! 
Enjoying my time with my girls!

Despite the fact that we didn't throw a birthday party, I know that Jenna felt loved and celebrated.  She isn't a demanding girl and she doesn't mind not having an elaborate celebration.  Jenna is content with what she has, and she is easily excited by the smallest of things, like brinner!  I love that about my Jenna.  I believe that she'll see the beauty in anything, and perhaps be the blessed few who can see the beauty in ashes.  I praise God for fearfully and wonderfully making her the way she is!

We love you so much, Jenna!

February 2013

Even though February is known to be somewhat of a gloomy month, we had quite a bit of fun!

Exciting news...Joshua lost his tooth!  I mean, he had lost his first 2 teeth last year, but we didn't get to see it because he was playing and then the 2 teeth came out when Jenna head-butted him, and we think he swallowed one of them because we found the other in the carpet weeks later.  So, it was quite non-eventful.  But this time, we were able to "journey" with Joshua from when his teeth was getting loose, to it being super loose till it was literally just hanging there, to when he actually pulled it out himself!  For some reason, I love his toothless grin!!

This is when the tooth was just hanging there, ready to be pulled!
Here's Josh with his missing tooth!

And then came the first big snow of the season!  While other people dreaded it, we welcomed it and the kids had a blast playing in the snow.  This was Becca's first time playing outside and she loved it!

The view of our deck (sorry, I should've opened the screen door!).
Our pretty snow-dusted street!
Jenna all bundled up and ready to go!
Becca!  She reminds me of Ralphie's little brother in A Christmas Story.  We borrowed the snowsuit from our friend, Wes.  I know it's blue, but she'll only be in it for a season!

Let it snow!
Joshua making a snow angel!
Becca loved the slide!
 I love my kids!!  They're so goofy!
 The girls playing "patty cake"!

Our first snowman, with crazy hair!
In the middle of construction...

Chinese New Year
We celebrated Chinese New Year on the 10th and 11th of February.  Technically, Sunday the 10th was the first day.  But since we had church, we had to celebrate it on Monday.  Still, I was able to dress the girls up a little on Sunday for church.

 Jared and Becca with church friends, Calvin and daughter, Sophia.
Becca and me.

Joshua's school had a Chinese New Year assembly on Friday which I was able to go to.  They did such a good job with it!  They had Chinese performers, storytellers, and both the Chinese Immersion classes performed a song.

Becca and friend, Mackenzie, waiting for the assembly to start.

Joshua's class walking into the gym.  He's in his blue Chinese shirt.
I snapped a quick picture of Josh and his friend, Jordan.
Here comes the lion dance!

Joshua's class performing.  Josh is right in the center in the blue.
Josh with carpool friends, Stefanya and Lucas.
I was able to sneak into his class and took some pics of the kids!
Joshua's class (sorry for the blurred much for a fancy iPhone!)
On Monday, I cooked a Chinese New Year dinner and invited family.  It was my first time cooking the dinner all by myself!  Okay, I bought the chicken curry from the store...but time was of the essence, and I didn't have time to make that dish.  But we all had fun, and I'm so glad that we're able to celebrate Chinese New Year and teach my kids more about their heritage and to embrace it too.
The kids all dressed up in their Chinese outfits.
My cuties...Yee Keng, Li Lian, Li Ling!
The table is set!
I bought some fun CNY plates for the kids from PBK!
The red packets are ready!
Homemade wontons!
Wonton soup!

The dishes!
Our cousins!
The two Beccas!
For some reason, Josh wanted to pose like that!
The kids with Mimi and Papa.
Our family pic!
 And we invited our good friend "Aunty" Jolinda to join us too!
Valentine's Day
And what's February without Valentine's Day?  Jared and I wanted to do something special for our small group members.  So, we decided to babysit their kids while they go out for a nice Valentine's Day dinner.  Having 10 kids in the house, actually, wasn't so bad!
Jenna's ready for Valentine's Day!
Some of the kiddies that we had over that night.
Private table for 2!
I did get my favorite flowers on Valentine's day!
Joshua and I had a double-date with some good friends of ours.  We went to a stage production of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in Des Plaines with Andrew and James and their mom, Leslie.  We first went to dinner (like any regular date!) at Jason's Deli.  And then we attended the production at 6pm.  It was very well done, much to my surprise.  The boys all enjoyed it, and it was such a great night.  My friend, Leslie, did such a great job blogging about it.  So, here's the link to her post: