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 for peaceful thoughts.
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.
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 is very timely It is also a good reminder of how many strong people have shaped our history.
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.
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.. 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.
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:
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.
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!
Club Punta Fuego has an amazing infinity pool. Toosh enjoyed her lounge time.
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- the front of our holiday card
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.
I will let Ken’s Instagram post speak:
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).
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.
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:
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.
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 mess and chaos and craziness.
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
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.
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.
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.
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!)
Me and wifey
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 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.
FIIIINNNNALLLLLLY, after ten years of putting it on my to-do-list for Fall, we made a trip to Storm King! And it was absolutely picturesque, glorious, beautiful, and enjoyable. Yes yes yes, our kids whined a little too much, and there are things we could have done differently, but overall, it was the perfect weekend activity….and we can’t wait to go back again!
Like person, like sculpture.
Although it seems like it should have been a joyous weekend celebrating my son’s seventh birthday (thank you so much to everyone who sent me greetings on his special day — truly felt like my birthday, thank you), it was darkened by the political climate in our country. I spent many “birthday greeting phone calls” talking and worrying about what was going on — it feels like a bad, bad movie. It’s a scary world out there, and let’s make sure we do what is right for EVERY single person in our country, regardless of race, religion, gender, etc. Here are some important links around the web.
Family ice cream birthday party (celebrating Cruzzie’s 7th birthday and my sister’s 36th birthday) — the ice cream cake was DELICIOUS and I ate more than my fair share…..but YOLO.
Can’t believe it’s the beginning of October! Here is what I am currently loving.
1. Starboy by The Weekend and Daft Punk
I can’t help my tween music taste, but really, The Weekend and Daft Punk together is the best duo ever. Kinda like if Coldplay were to jam out with Justin Bieber. This song is everything. And helps me move.
The other morning when I was at my good friend’s house, she had just pulled banana bread out of the oven (how she makes banana bread while dealing with two kids on a school morning amazes me to no end!). She offered a piece, and although I had already eaten breakfast, I couldn’t say no. And HOLY crap, this was the best banana bread ever. Thankfully, she sent me the recipe and here it is!
This is how I bake….6:30 am on a Sunday morning, in my pajamas, totally disheveled, with my little baking partner (my 4 year old), and flour all over myself. But at least I am wearing FEATHERS undies. (I promise you this photo was not staged — Ken took a photo of me because he said it looked ridiculous with the hand print).
I have a daughter who loves to draw and color, and as a result, I have bought many and many sets of pens, pencils, markers, and paints. For whatever reason, she only uses certain sets (picky about everything in life) and ALL of these sets are from a company called International Arrivals. Now I know not to bother buying any other type of pen. These coloring sets are fun, unique, and great for gifts, too.
Our typical breakfast routine….eating while coloring. And as you can see, she is much more interested in her art than her food.
As a kid, I made my own personalized designed plates. I have such fond memories of drawing them with my brother and our friends. Even now during the summers, my parents pull out those same plates so our kids can use them.
So far, Fall has whooped my butt. I feel like I am always behind (like writing the weeks’ blog posts) and I can’t keep up. I know that everything is temporary, but right now, it is like 0 for me vs. 100 for everything else. So why not add on to how behind I am by creating a Fall wish list of activities for me to do :). Here it is:
Start to school has kicked my bootie. Same for the kids. This picture is of Toosh in the middle of the morning. She decided she was just going to rest instead of doing anything else. #Jealous
My sister got married this weekend in an amazing wedding in Portland, OR (yes, we just relocated the family back from the West Coast the weekend prior… lots of travel!) It was beautiful, heart warming, emotional, and fun. I am so #blessed (#sorrynotsorry) that I love my family as much as I do — my sisters, brother, and parents (obviously, my husband and kids too)– so much that I just want to be with them all the time (which makes my re-entry to NYC all that much more difficult). Outside of the event and family, the highlight of the wedding was my sister’s WEDDING FOOD! BEST WEDDING FOOD EVER EVER EVER. And not just any food, it was FOOD TRUCKS. Yep, food trucks at a wedding. And it was AWESOME. There were three food trucks for the main meal, and one food truck for dessert #Winning.
Hawaiian Cuisine? Yes please! This truck was from 808 Grinds and served an assortment of meats, rices, and sides. My favorite dish was the Fried Chicken.