Renovation Post #4

Drum roll……This is our last official night living with my inlaws.  Spring break starts tomorrow and when we return, we will be in OUR NEW APARTMENT! We have been living in temporary digs since June 2016, so the return home will be that much better and sweeter. Our home! Here are some pictures of the current state of our apartment…not everything is done, like wallpaper, and lights, etc…but that will take place in the next two weeks (or so we hope!).

 

This is our future dining room and living room. I love the new floors (they are the same floors just sanded down and stained light vs the original dark color).

This is our future dining room and living room. I love the new floors (they are the same floors just sanded down and stained light vs the original dark color).

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Quickfire Interview with Jennifer Maanavi – Founder of Physique 57

Holy moley, speaking to Jennifer Maanavi is like speaking to a legend! She is the founder of Physique 57, the boutique barre class that helped change the fitness scene in New York, and now, globally. She is not just smart, beautiful and fit, but she is also incredibly thoughtful, sweet, and incredibly friendly. Take a look at the quickfire interview, and thank you so much, Jennifer!

 

Jennifer.

Jennifer.

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Currently Loving February 2017

Here we are in the final stretch of February…a little odd because we are just in the middle of February, but because of the short month, it is near the end (#MathTeacher). Here is what I am currently loving this month.

 

1. Katy Perry ‘Chained to the Rhythm’

 

I first heard this song at the Grammy’s where she performed live with Skip Marley, and it instantly got stuck in my head. Now, we play it on repeat and everyone in the family dances along.

 

Katy Perry.

Katy Perry. What is not to love about this song? Everything about it — the lyrics, the beat, the tune, everything just makes me so happy and makes me want to dance, dance, dance to the distortion.

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Letters to My Baby

For personal family reasons, I have had a difficult past week with lots of tears shed and feelings of despair and sadness. Many friends went above and beyond and have been an incredible support. Thank you for listening, thank you for the wine, thank you for the lunch, thank you for check ins and calls, and thank you for being my shoulder to lean on. It means the world to me, so thank you.

 

It is also during these times that I miss my parents the most. Growing up, whenever I got upset (either by throwing a temper tantrum or having my feelings hurt), my father would type up letters with some big moral and place them on my pillowcase. My father (the smartest man in the world) is also incredibly sensitive, wise, articulate, and thoughtful. It was during those hard times that I looked forward to his letters the most. Especially right now, I so wish I had these letters and could relate them to my feelings.

 

So when I came across this book “Letters to My Baby” it tugged at my heart strings and I had to buy it. Not that they are similar to my father’s typed up letters, but they are a great keepsake and something a child can have forever. Write now, read later, treasure forever. They are little paper time capsules that contain 12 letters where a parent can write to their child. Each letter has a different prompt for the parent to write about, and then you date, seal and keep the letters for your child. I love this idea.

 

Vintage Air Mail look in a great little booklet.

Vintage Air Mail look in a great little booklet.

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August Morgan Napkins

I just bought the most clever napkins ever, introduced to me by my bestie Amy at a brunch she threw.  Yet, they are presents not for myself (currently, we do not have our own home, so there’s no need to hoard napkins quite yet) but to have in my stash of presents for friends. These witty and creative napkins by August Morgan are the perfect hostess gift, pick-me-up present, or even a birthday present (who said napkins for your birthday are not the best!). You can buy the napkins as mix and match which makes it even more fun.

 

A set of four comes in a little nifty box with a ribbon to close it with.

A set of four comes in a little nifty box with a ribbon to close it with.

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February 2017 Links Around The Web

With a blink of an eye, we are now 1/12th done with the calendar year! My oh my, and what a whirlwind it has been. Here are some good links and reads around the world wide web.

 

This is a picture of my handsome father in 1961. Born in Poland as a Jew, he was kicked out in 1969 and Sweden granted citizenship to refugees like him. In 1974, he immigrated to the United States where he went to Stanford University for another graduate degree. Thank you, Sweden, for accepting my father and welcoming him into your arms. And America, let's continue to welcome people of every religion, race, and background. We are all children of immigrants.

This is a picture of my handsome father in 1961. Born in Poland as a Jew, he was kicked out in 1969 and Sweden granted him citizenship, along with other refugees. In 1974, he immigrated to the United States where he went to Stanford University for another graduate degree. Thank you, Sweden, for accepting my father and welcoming him into your arms. And America, let’s continue to welcome people of every religion, race, and background. We are all children of immigrants.

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Pamela Gold: Post #3

As the (still?) New Year is a time of reflection and improvement, I sought out my ever so wise friend, Pamela Gold, to answer all my dying questions. Forever a source of knowledge, she was the perfect person to ask a series of  neurotic and panicked questions! Thank you, Pamela! You are the best! And yes, her answers are novels because she has so much to share always. It is a lot of information all at once, so if I were you, read it now, save some for later, but READ IT. It is worth the length and time it takes to read it. (NO PICTURES BECAUSE THE WORDS ARE WHAT IS IMPORTANT).

 

Peaceful images.

Peaceful images for peaceful thoughts.

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Elm Street Books

This past Fall, I discovered a small independent bookstore in New Canaan that I fell in love with — Elm Street Books. Not only does it have a great selection of books, but the employees are incredibly knowledgeable and give great recommendations. Last weekend, I went in with three needs: books my emerging reader son can read on his own, books that I can read to BOTH my kids, and books for myself. Two different employees helped me out and all of their selections have been spot on perfect. Here is what they recommended! Thank you, Elm Street Books! We will be back!

 

Elm Street: Walked out with a new bag filled with books -- nothing better.

Elm Street: Walked out with a new bag filled with books — nothing better.

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Of Thee I Sing

For the holidays, Cruzzie was gifted President Obama’s children’s book “Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters.” (I’m not sure how iI missed this for so long… it was published in 2010.)  The book is thoughtful, educational, emotional, and beautiful. The first time I read it to my kids, I cried (yes, I am prone to crying, but still — this book is powerful). When you read the book, you can hear President Obama’s voice — and what an awe inspiring and powerful speaker he is (can we talk about his farewell address? We were in tears. How I will miss him!). This book is a must have for everyone –it is also a perfect gift.

 

This book seems very fitting for today....it is President Obama's last week as President. It is also a good reminder of how many strong people have shaped our history, and hopefully we will be able to be strong and determined moving forward.

This book is very timely It is also a good reminder of how many strong people have shaped our history.

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Pangulasian, El Nido, Palawan

Hands down, the highlight of our 2016 trip to the Philippines was our visit to Pangulasian, El Nido, Palawan. To say the resort, scenery, environment, location, food, service, experience was amazing is an understatement. I will go out on a ledge to say that it was the most beautiful and breathtaking vacation I have ever been on. It was so incredible that I would fly across the world again tomorrow to spend more time there.

 

To get to the resort, we had to fly from Manila to El Nido, then take a van to a boat. The boat was a tiny speed boat that took 20-30 minutes to get us there. Worth every travel minute to get to this paradise.

To get to the resort, we had to fly from Manila to El Nido, then take a van to a boat. The boat was a tiny speed boat that took 20-30 minutes to get us there. Worth every travel minute to get to this paradise.

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New Years Goals 2017

Happy New Year! For whatever reason, this year, I felt ambitious and decided to come up with 17 resolutions (goals / to do list / aspirations) for 2017 rather than just 5 or 10. (I think I had time to think about it for 24 hours when traveling back from Asia on Friday!) Here they are:

 

Heading into 2017

Heading into 2017.. a dock in Palawan in The Philippines (more on our vacation to come!)

 

1. Give myself more credit. I am hard on myself and rarely acknowledge (and applaud) my own accomplishments and successes.

 

2. Accept (and love) my body for the way it is. Be kind to myself.

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Kidzania

As we are halfway around the world with Ken’s family, The Josie Guy is helping me with some blog posts this week.  Fair trade.  Here he is:

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As discussed in the Josie Girl’s Punta Fuego post, we have been rotating between stints in Manila and out.  One of the highlights (outside of family) of being in Manila has been Kidzania.  What is Kidzania?  In short, it is a huge indoor pretend city that allows kids to role-play by conducting adult activities.  There are currently more than 20 locations around the world and it is on its way to the States.

 

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Punta Fuego, Philippines

Our holiday trip to the Philippines has been a mix of time spent in metro Manila where most of Ken’s family lives, and time spent out of Manila, which is more know for beautiful beaches, nature, and tourism.  (Fortunately, Typhoon Nina didn’t do as much damage to Manila as some had forecast).  Our first getaway was to gorgeous Punta Fuego, where we went with Ken’s 11 cousins (on his mom’s side of the family), 4 kids (including our two), and 2 of 3 spouses (including me).  Enjoy the pics!

 

 

Punta Fuego

Club Punta Fuego has an amazing infinity pool. Toosh enjoyed her lounge time.

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Happy Holidays! – 2016

Hi all-

 

Wishing you and your loved ones the happiest of holidays as we wrap up an interesting year.

 

Thank you for reading the blog and for all of your support.

 

Hi there

Hi there- the front of our holiday card

 

Our laughing munchkins

Our laughing munchkins

 

We are still on the other side of the world with Ken’s extended family in the Philippines.  Wishing you the best.

Anika Yael Natori, aka, The Josie Girl

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We Made It! – Philippines

Greetings!

I will let Ken’s Instagram post speak:screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-4-25-20-pm

Yep.  2 hours of delay on the snowy JFK tarmac, 16.5 hours to Hong Kong, an hour layover, another 2 hour flight to Manila, and two hours through customs and to Ken’s family’s house later, we are in Manila for a family reunion extravaganza for his mother’s side of the family.  It is 5:30 AM Manila time now and the kids have been up for 2 and 4 hours respectively, but we are excited that we made it without dramatic incident (though we are still waiting on the kids bag to come… hopefully later today).

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Holiday Card Display

One of my best friends happens to be one of the most organized people I have ever met. She literally has a folder for everything, a labeled box for anything, AND she has a genius way of organizing holiday cards — by hole punching them and putting them on a ring. No clutter, no loose mail, and everything is all in one place. So I did as all fans do and copied her.  It sounds so silly, but it’s been a game changer! It might be an overstatement to say it has changed my life, but I kinda feel like it has. #Dramatic

 

You simply punch a hole in the corner and put it on the key ring. So easy (and cheap). And it feels so clean and organized. A game changer!

You simply punch a hole in the corner and put it on the key ring. So easy (and cheap). And it feels so clean and organized.

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Thanksgiving 2016- Breitenbush Hot Springs

We just returned from the Best / West Coast where we spent a whirlwind holiday weekend outside in nature with my side of the family. It is best summed up by Ken’s instagram post:

 

#Truth

#YesBingeBeforeCleanse

My parents have spent the past 20 Thanksgivings at Breitenbush Hot Springs, at the base of Oregon’s Cascade Mountains.  So instead of indulging in food, turkey, booze, and football, we spent Thanksgiving off the grid in natural hot springs, rain, lush forests, and togetherness (vegetarian togetherness). My brother and his family have gone the past seven years, so this year, we decided to make the trek out to Oregon. It was quite the haul, but it was a special and joyous time for the cousins and all of us to be together.

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Renovation Post #2

In August, I posted about our renovation and how lucky we are to be able to combine two apartments together to form our dream home. So here we are, now in November, and while we are progressing, the end doesn’t seem much closer (still living with my in-laws). IT WILL ALL BE WORTH IT, but man, it can be difficult not having my own home or space. My in laws are incredibly generous with their home, yet, it is still not our own…..

ZEN -- my in law's apartment is ZEN, of course, until you see our side and mess and chaos and craziness.

ZEN — my in law’s apartment is ZEN, of course, until you see our mess and chaos and craziness.

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Currently Loving November 2016

Sorry for not doing my typical three posts last week. Truth be told, I was a little (or a lot) paralyzed by the election results and just couldn’t function.  I have been experiencing the grief cycle, and finally feel able to be a little more positive… I hope that feeling lasts more than an hour. In the meantime, here is what I am currently loving this November:

 

1. My number 1 podcast, How I Built This

 

A good listen

I go through phases with  different podcasts, but “How I Built This” is the one that I listen to every single week. And can’t wait for the following week’s edition.

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Election 2016

I can’t.  I’m sorry.  Here’s Ken to kill space.

 


 

As many of you know, these are our kids.  Japanese-Filipino-Polish-Mexican-Catholic-Jewish bundles of love.  Three of their four grandparents are immigrants (and the one who isn’t is third-generation Japanese-American, born in an internment camp during World War II).

 

I used to think they represented America.  I now realize that a lot of America doesn’t see it that way.

 

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Calendar Stickers

I am a sucker for paper / stationary / gift stores. Whenever I go in to a paper store for a specific item, I leave with four additional items that I decide I can’t live without. So recently, when I needed thank you cards (because my whole life is in storage due to our renovation), I walked out with so much more. And my most exciting purchase was Calendar Stickers. Yes, yes, I know, most people use phones and computers for their calendar and organization system, as do I, but I ALSO use an old school pen and paper calendar as well. I know, OLD SCHOOL. I am also totally obsessive and get the same moleskin calendar every year.  These calendar stickers are playful, fun, and serve as the perfect accessories to brighten up my calendar. LOVE LOVE LOVE.

 

two different editions with two different sets of stickers -- both that I needed and wanted.

Two different editions with two different sets of stickers — both that I needed and wanted.

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The Josie Girl Blog- 5 Years!

Hi.  This is Ken.  The Josie Girl’s Husband.

 

I am hijacking the blog today to let you know that today is the 5 Year Anniversary of the Josie Girl Blog, which all started with this post here.

 

I am incredibly proud of my wife (Yael if you call her by her middle name, Anika if you call her by her first) for having the commitment, creativity, and discipline to put forth such great content over the last 5 years.  Since her “go-to” toast is lists, I wanted to share the Top Five Things you didn’t know about The Josie Girl / writing a blog:

 

1)      She is the anti-blogger.  Working in the industry, I can safely say writing good content is only 20% of being a mainstream blogger.  The other 80% is promoting yourself, through social media, networking, etc.  While The Josie Girl loves the 20%, she refuses to do the 80%.  She is the shyest blogger ever.  Her Instagram is private.  Her Twitter is run by the company (outed).  And she literally has never shared a single one of her posts on Facebook (and won’t let me do it either).  The vast majority of her friends don’t know about her secret blogger life, and she wants to keep it that way.  (NOTE: If you are a loyal reader, please recruit your friends!)

 

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Me and wifey

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Glimpse Guides – Travel with Kids

Introduced by a good friend, I had the privilege of meeting Jordan Rhodes, the creator of the website Glimpse Guides. The website shares Jordan’s travel finds, reports on current fashion for children and adults, and provides a wide variety of travel tips for families. It is a great resource when booking trips with kids. (She also featured my tips on traveling in Paris… take a look here). As a mother of two (with the third on the way!), Jordan manages to visit, write, and post inspirational and helpful content — thank you so much!

 

Jordan (pregnant with her third child) and her husband this past Fall in Scotland.

Jordan (pregnant with her third child) and her husband this past Fall in Skibo Castle in Scotland. Her family loves Scotland as there are so many outdoor activities for all ages, and the beautiful, remote landscape is unrivaled.

 

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