Mexico 2016 Highlights

Mama and Toosh in our hungarian embroidered shirts.

 

 

Like last year, we spent the first portion of Spring Break in Bucerias, Mexico at my uncle’s beach house. My mother, born and raised in Mexico City, still has two brothers that live in Mexico. And fortunately for us, one of them has a beautiful beach house in Bucerias, a sleepy-non-tourist town north of Puerto Vallarta, on the west coast of Mexico. Here are the highlights from our ten day vacation with Nana and Tata!

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Ken’s 40th Birthday!

Happy boy

 

My husband Ken is one of the most caring, down-to-earth, and fun people I know, on top of being extremely brave, courageous, and committed. For his 40th birthday, he threw a concert (similar to his 38th year birthday recital) but instead of doing it solo, he cobbled together a full band (frequent readers know he started taking guitar lessons 3.5 years ago when he won an O.A.R. Sound Check at a silent auction). So, with a lot of work, practice, and dedication, he had a fabulous 40th birthday party last weekend.  I am so proud of him for putting himself out there and taking risks. Here are the photos (most of them are taken by Cynthia Delconte, our wedding photographer!) Enjoy!

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Why Teach? This Is Why…

In my previous life, I was a math teacher. I taught for ten years; in a public high school in the Bay Area, a public high school in New York City, and then a private middle school. Each school had its strengths and difficulties, but I was drawn to teach, not just because of my love of the subject matter, but because of my love for the students. Many students were my first children; people that I cared for, worried about, cried over, and loved.

 

Graduating from Stanford with my MA in 2003.

Graduating from Stanford with my MA in 2004. I thought graduate school was hard, but nothing is as hard as your first year teaching.

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Must Read Book: When Breath Becomes Air

Everyone is talking about it…. so call me generic or mainstream, but I can’t stop raving and oohing and crying about When Breath Becomes Air. I am obsessed: I have ordered four copies and given them to friends. I figure out a way to bring it up in every conversation. I think about it. I want to re-read it with a highlighter and underline the important lines. It is heart-wrenching, gut-punching, soul-defining good.

 

Fresh Air.

Fresh Air.

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Special Plate and Announcement

DRUM ROLLLLLLLLLLL…….my hubba hubba husband is now El Capitan of The Natori Company (also know as President). For some readers, you might think OBVI, he is the son, so of course, he is President. But that is not the case. Ken never thought he was going to work for his mother and set out to make a name for himself. He was a TV and radio broadcaster at Bloomberg for 5 years (Ken Natori, What’s the story?), then went to Stanford Business School (near-perfect GMAT scores), worked at Lehman Brothers for several years (left before the crash), and then joined the family business in 2007. I am proud of my husband for working hard, committing to what he believes in, being a diligent and thoughtful worker, and at the same time as being the smartest person I have ever met (other than my brother and father —  they all tie for first place). So now, a new era of new life for the Natori business, and I am proud and in awe of my husband’s dedication, drive, and talents. So to celebrate, I got him this plate (this is not a joke).

 

YUP, "You are special today" BEST GIFT EVER.

YUP, “You are special today” BEST GIFT EVER.

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Sunriver Christmas 2015

Happy 2016 and back to reality! We are back to the routine (school, work, pressure, paying attention to time, the hustle and bustle of the city, oh me oh my!), which makes me even more nostalgic of last week’s Sunriver vacation with my family. Although my dad claims that there is “family” and “vacation” and no such thing as “family vacation,” I happen to disagree. We had the best time with my brother, sister-in-law, parents, nieces and nephew; and loved every minute of our time with them. Here are some pictures to enjoy!

 

SNOW! And lots of it! Unlike the 70 degree Christmas in NYC, the west coast was hammered with cold temperatures and lots of show -- perfect for a ski vacation!

SNOW! And lots of it! Unlike the 70 degree Christmas in NYC, the West Coast was hammered with cold temperatures and lots of snow — perfect for a ski vacation!

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Christmas 2015

A short and sweet, simple Merry Christmas to you and yours. As you read this, we are somewhere on an airplane traveling from Florida to Sunriver, Oregon to spend a week in the snow with my side of the family.

 

Happy everything!

Happy everything! And yes, those sweaters are hand knit art work created by my mother. Next on her list of projects, a matching sweater for me! I can’t wait.

Happy happy!!!

Happy happy!!!

 

Although most people take the week off from posting on the world wide web, I will be doing regular posts (#JosieGirlNeverStops), so please stop on by! Thanks so much for all your continuous support and viewership (#ForeverGrateful) and have a very Merry Holiday.

Anika Yael Natori, aka, The Josie Girl

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Christmas Celebration 2015

Hello from (grey and cold) Florida! We had an early Christmas celebration this past Friday night since we were all headed in different directions (Florida then Oregon for us Natori Juniors, the Philippines for the Natori Seniors, and New Jersey for my sister, Courtney). Take a look. And listen to this because it is amazing!

 

Santa visited us (thankfully, I remembered that he was expected to bring presents to the kids -- so darted out to the closest toy store to get MORE presents for the kids, as we celebrated "Christmas' in the morning as our family of four). This Santa, although wearing latex gloves and a little creepy, was BY FAR the best santa that we have seen compared to years past. No flask, no chain smoker, no creepiness.

Santa visited us (the four of us actually celebrated Christmas that morning…. so I had to run out and get more presents for Santa to deliver to the kids!). This Santa, although wearing latex gloves, was BY FAR the best Santa that we have had compared to years past. No flask, no chain smoker, no creepiness.

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NYC Sunday Brunch: The Standard Grill

Although it currently feels like Spring in New York, Christmastime is in the air!; bells, fir trees, red, green, tourists,  presents, ribbons, gingerbread, candy canes. We had a terrific Sunday morning last weekend, and I highly recommend recreating it for some family fun.

 

Anything with these two is fun and festive....except when they are poking each other, in each other's faces, whining, complaining, crying, and hitting. #TheJoy

Anything with these two is fun and festive….except when they are poking each other’s faces, whining, complaining, crying, and hitting. #TheJoy

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Josie Natori’s Beauty Routine

The minute my mother-in-law walks in the door, people stare at her. She carries herself regally, impeccably dressed, and is constantly glamorous and beautiful. In the 12 years (!) that I have known her, I have constantly been in awe of her beauty, grace, and class. So, I decided to ask her questions on how she takes care of herself (with the unrealistic hopes that it would give me the tools and hints on how to be as beautiful as she is). Take a look at her answers!

JCN and me at the CFDA's

JCN and me before the CFDA’s

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Thanksgiving 2015

It is rare to find friends that are family; people you love unconditionally and can be completely comfortable with in any setting. Luckily, we have found our New York non-family family, so it was an extra special treat to be invited to spend Thanksgiving with them in Aspen, Colorado. HOLY COW was it amazing, perfect, and incredible. Take a look at our pictures (#humblebrag #sorryimnotsorry)!

 

The kids get along swimmingly. Best friends for life.

The kids get along swimmingly. Best friends for life.

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Halloween / NYC Marathon 2015

One of my favorite events in the Big Apple is the New York City Marathon. There is a buzz, energy, and pride that fills the city air. I cry, I smile, I weep, and I am just so happy for all the runners and finishers! And this year, it fell the day after Halloween, making it a BIG weekend for kids and adults. A memorable, fun, and inspiring weekend.

 

Snow Fairy Princess and Hipster Batman brother.

Snow Fairy Princess and Hipster Batman brother. (Neither of the shoes are an official part of their costume).

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Chicago Marathon 2015: The Race

Not that any of you asked, but for the 0.5% of the people that are interested in the running aspect of my recent marathon, here it goes! (I am an over-sharer, not an under-sharer). Marathons are HARD MOTHERS, like flipping H-A-R-D. Not only is it a physical exercise, but it is also a mental / emotional / spiritual challenge. Somehow, you have to dig down into your body and make it happen — and like I said before, it is only you yourself that can make it happen….so the race recap, begins!

 

I am SOOOO beyond heinous in this picture, but I think it is a good image of what a marathon feels like. My eye is half closed, my body hurts, I am trying to smile but I can't. I AM A HOT MESS. But proud of it.

I am SOOOO beyond heinous in this picture ( I AM A ONE EYED MONSTER!), but I think it is a good image of what a marathon feels like (this is post marathon — notice my medal). My eye is half closed, my body hurts, I am trying to smile but I can’t. I AM A HOT MESS. But proud of it.

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Chicago Marathon 2015

I was fortunate enough to run the Chicago Marathon  this past Sunday, and man oh man, what a rush, joy, privilege and honor it was! Sorry for so many marathon posts (YUP, fully addicted #cantstopwontstop), but here is the recap from my weekend. First and foremost, huge shout out to two special people that made this weekend possible: Michelle, my dear friend I met on the course at the Paris Marathon this past April, who hosted me and was so generous and giving; and my bestie in the whole wide world, Amy, who flew across the country to support me and my crazy habit. Thank you thank you thank you thank you. I love you! And of course, also another thank you to my running-widow-husband who allows me to disappear and do what I love… thank you!

 

My bib. And a ticket for a free beer after the race (didn't use it). Notice, I was in the slowest wave and it mentally handicapped me for a little bit. That said, I managed (I dug deep) to get through it and overcome that setback.

My bib. And a ticket for a free beer after the race (didn’t use it). Notice, I was in the slowest wave which  mentally handicapped me for a little bit. That said, I managed to get through it and overcome.

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Summertime in Sunriver

Fall is in full swing and I am (incredibly) nostalgic about sunshine, bathing suits, vacation, less scheduled time, and popsicles. So throwback (#MondayMemories — such a thing, HA!) to August when we traveled with our best friends (who don’t like the internet) and all our kids to one of my favorite places to travel: Sunriver, Oregon. Growing up, we would go there twice a year for family vacations; always to ski. Winter ski trip and Spring ski trip. Only once did I go to Sunriver in the summer, when I was invited in middle school with a friends’ family. Our trip this summer did not disappoint and we thoroughly enjoyed each and every minute — activities, relaxation, and quality time all together.

 

An ice cream cone a day keeps the doctor away. A crowd favorite, ice cream (and candy) from good 'ol Goodies!

An ice cream a day keeps the doctor away. A crowd favorite, ice cream (and candy) from good ‘ol Goody’s!

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Why I Run

To be completely honest, not too many people are supportive of my running habit. My parents think I am bonkers; my husband, although supportive, bears the brunt of the time commitment on the weekends; strangers tell me to ‘rest my body’; my kids think every time I run I am gone for half the day; my joints here and there scream STOP; my quads are ginormous and horse-like; and my nerves pre-race / pre-long run bring insomnia and anxiety. But I can’t stop. I love it. There is something about running that brings me a sense of freedom, escape, meditation, nature, beauty, relaxation and peace. Every time I step outside to run and I look out at the sky, I just release a sigh of relief and think, “Thank goodness! Here I am again!”

 

Yesterday!

Yesterday during an 18m race in Central Park! I am the one with the crazy face in the middle. I can’t even tell you how excited I was to see my family!

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Typical Summer Meal

Here is a sample meal from my mother. And yes, she is a creative genius in the kitchen — she rarely looks at recipes and constantly uses her imagination to combine the freshest ingredients she finds. The key is organic and fresh veggies!

 

Tomato, Cucumber, Parsley, Anchovy salad. Fresh veggies from the CSA. True perfection.

Tomato, Cucumber, Parsley, Anchovy salad. Fresh veggies from the CSA. True perfection.

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Seattle, August 2015

I am not a good driver….as (1) I don’t like the actual driving, (2) I get sleepy easily, (3) my mind wanders off, (I don’t text when driving and I am safe!), and (4) I usually end up driving super slow in the left lane…..but I was more than happy to drive the kids up to Seattle last week to see their cousins before our summer ends. Here are some pictures from our wonderful time together in the Pacific Northwest’s biggest city!

Sailing at Sunset. We had the opportunity to do that 2/3 of the nights we were there. SO FUN and so relaxing.

Cruzzie and his cousin, Alagna, sailing at sunset. We had the opportunity to do that 2/3 of the nights we were there. SO FUN and so relaxing.

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Some of the Reasons I Love Eugene…

For new readers of the blog (thanks The New Potato!), I live in New York with my husband Ken and two kids.  But I “summer” in my hometown of Eugene, Oregon with my parents, and Ken comes back and forth.  New York and Eugene couldn’t be more different, and I have come to love the contrast, and appreciate the positives (and negatives) of both.  Here are some of the reasons I love Eugene, my first and always true home… (I bleed tie dye)…

 

And I am trying my hardest to make tie-dye a big part of my kids' life, too.

And I am trying my hardest to make tie-dye a big part of my kids’ life, too.

Bike Rides

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Bicycle Training

How do you teach your child how to ride a bike? CALL YOUR FATHER! (not joking). YUP, as with everything, kids take direction from other people more than their parents (next thing you know, there will be “bike riding consultants” for children in NYC….if there aren’t already…).  So happy that my papa taught C how to ride a bike in three days!

 

bike rider

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Beginning of Summer…

Here we are, Oregon Summer 2015! I arrived just a little over 24 hours ago from New York and it feels like I never left. I must say that I have had a hard time adjusting the first week….I always want to make a plan and have a hard time not having a “busy schedule”. That said, after a week in Eugene, I get the hang of doing nothing and get to be way more mellow and relaxed (all of it disappears the moment that I land in NYC). Totally jet-lagged, exhausted, and tired, here is a quick look at some photos of my first 24 hours in Eugene.

 

A walk to a flat area (we live in a steep hill in every direction) where Tata (my father) could teach Cruzzie how to ride a bike.

A walk to a flat area (we live in a steep hill in every direction) where Tata (my father) was able to teach Cruzzie how to ride a bike. (and yes, That’s Life!)

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Summer 2015 To-Do List

Since summer’s now here (well, kind of. Yes my kids are out of school but I am still in NYC…), I put together my personal to-do list for the season, filled with things I’d love to accomplish before Labor Day. Lots to do in just a small amount of time.

 

1. Drink rose and gobble up oysters at Grand Banks on Pier 25 in NYC. Doesn’t it look ridiculous? Unreal, oh-my-god-I-want-to-go-now.

 

The restaurant is on a BOAT! But not this type of boat. And definitely not this captain.

The restaurant is on a BOAT! But not this type of boat. And definitely not this captain.

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Happy 3rd Birthday, Toosh!

A trip down memory lane…..Three years ago (to the date), I gave birth to my little baby girl, Zoe Esther (also known as ‘Tusia” or ‘Toosh”) Natori. Maybe it is from watching videos like this or this or reading about when she was 1 but DAMN, being a mother is such an emotional and rewarding job. And with Tusia’s birthday today, I can’t seem to hide my tears. I tear because I never knew that this type of love was possible; that she is no longer a baby; that we are now in a new phase of our life; the concern of future hardships; the pride I beam for who she has become; the curiosity of her mind. I carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart). “Tusia Na-ta-tori” as she calls herself is my little princess, and I love her up to the sky, down again, around the world, and back again. Happy 3rd birthday, Toosh! I love you.

 

Big girl Toosh celebrating her birthday and mother's day yesterday eating a "Hello Kitty" sorbet and relaxing in Central Park.

Big girl Toosh celebrating her birthday and Mother’s Day yesterday eating a “Hello Kitty” sorbet and relaxing in Central Park.

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