Happy Things

This has not been the most relaxing season for me… returning to work, Nick traveling, excessive rain.

It is easy to articulate the things that are stressing me out or making life difficult. It’s often less reflexive for me to share & meditate on everything I’m grateful for. As a practice in gratitude, I’ll be focusing on the good… the happy things!

Here’s my list of simple, sometimes silly, things that are bringing me joy right now 🙂

  • Painting Sun-catchers
    I am grateful for anything that keeps my little guy glued to a chair for 30+ minutes that isn’t a screen or some form of technology 🙂 I’ve gotten these for Josh twice this past week. He seriously loves these random little painting kits we found in the dollar section at Target (YES literally $1 per kit). They have different Disney characters and he is mesmerized and hyper-focused on it every time he does it.
  • Gratitude Lists
    I’ve begun making gratitude lists once a week (usually on Sundays) in my bullet journal. I’ll sit and write about 20-30 things I’m thankful for. This has been an amazing discipline to keep over the past couple months that has really allowed me to take notice of what brings me joy (rather than what tears me down).
  • French Press Coffee
    Somehow soooo therapeutic using my french press in the morning… not to mention, it ups the deliciousness of my brew. We have switched from Keurig to French Press and it’s a game-changer.
  • Successful night 1 of sleep training
    Hallelujah! Kai had an amazing night 1 of sleep training… do second babies tend to be easier than first babies? I know it was just one night and he is bound to have some difficulty! But I’m still riding the high of last night… let’s pray it stays this way!
  • Getting storage for all the toys in our living room
    Sometimes, when you’re living in a 2-bedroom apartment with two young children, it feels like toys take up every square inch of your space. For a while there, we had toys spilling out of literally every single room. But at last… we have found these beautiful toy chests that not only keep our living room floor clean, but ALSO totally match our beige colored furniture.

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  • The Crown
    Anyone else watching this? I just finished season 1 and am in loveeeee. Not to mention, learning a ton about European (namely British) history. I have a renewed admiration for the Queen and a newfound curiosity about the royal family. This show is brilliantly done– and not to mention, thus far, Claire Foy has deservedly won best actress at every award show this year for her role as a young Queen Elizabeth.
  • Kindle Deals
    My favorite book blogger frequently posts Amazon Kindle deals, and I must say that today’s list is absolutely amazing… the best I’ve seen so far. Four of these books, I’ve been dying to read for a long time.
  • An Amazing Valentine’s Gift
    Shout out to my husband for totally upping my bath experience by getting me a bath tray for Valentine’s day. Now I can read my kindle or watch my show or have a glass of wine during my bath… this feels really over-the-top as I’m typing… but taking a bath is my go-to for R&R amidst a crazy week. No judging… thanks, hubs 🙂
  • Skirball Cultural Center
    Sometimes, I love LA. This museum is close to us, free on Thursdays, AND has a Noah’s Ark exhibit for children… we went last week and Joshua absolutely LOVED it! Even though it took him 15 minutes to calm down, stop crying and actually enter the exhibit (not sure what he was afraid of), he ended up really enjoying it. Definitely plan on going again.
  • Chubby Cheeks & Rolls
    Because my first boy didn’t have any… we are experiencing them for the first time. What a treat 🙂

What happy things are on your list this week?

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10 Things I Learned in January

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  1. Do not leave your toddler’s antibiotics within his reach.
    Because let me tell you what will happen: You and your husband will realize it’s gone. Then, you will each insist that the other accidentally threw it out. After the panic of ‘oh no, we really can’t find it’, you frantically call your pediatrician on a Sunday so that she can put in an emergency prescription to the pharmacy. She will then suggest that maybe Joshua hid it, since kids tend to do that when they have yucky-tasting medicine. I say, “no way, Josh wouldn’t do that.” And then, low and behold, a couple weeks later… you will definitely find it hidden in his toy truck.
  2. I am in dire need of a backpack diaper bag.
    I did not listen to the incredibly insightful advice a dear friend gave me (yup, that’s you, Parastou) that I will absolutely need a hands-free diaper bag with two children. I, instead, decided to go with a well-priced, cute shoulder bag and it has been NOT been working… bulky and constantly sliding down my shoulder when I’m trying to manage a toddler & a baby. A backpack diaper bag feels necessary right now.
  3. Books about separation anxiety are helping my kiddo adjust to preschool.
    Having something tangible I can do to help him transition more smoothly is helpful for both of us. Namely, the two books, “I Love You All Day Long” and “The Kissing Hand” are helping him grasp the concept of school and that we still love him and think about him when he’s there. Highly recommend 🙂
  4. I totally failed at Christmas card distribution.
    Yeah, so I’m very sorry if you did not get our Christmas card. I have an enormous stack sitting on our desk. We sent out about half… the other half, I kept putting off sending until it just got embarrassing. I might still send some out so that they don’t go to waste… but, lesson learned. I will be on top of it this year.
  5. Paperclips make awesome bookmarks.
    How cute are those heart paperclips (pictured above) I got from the dollar section at Target? They are amazing as bookmarks and also as page keepers for recipes in cookbooks! Super into it right now.
  6. I’m loving the bullet journal.
    ^^That’s my bullet journal in blue above 🙂 I was super intimidated to try the bullet journal, but had been eyeing the system for a couple years now. I started about a month ago and really love it. It’s super helpful for task-oriented/ to-do list type people. It looks complicated, but it’s actually a lot simpler than I thought. This blog & this other one really helped equip me to start. The only thing I miss from my planner is my ‘monthly layout’ view. Otherwise, it’s everything I need for keeping track of things.
  7. There needs to be more drive-thru’s.
    I have two sleeping children in my car and am in DIRE need of chipotle… please create a drive-thru option, Chipotle. I know this is absolutely a first world issue… I am sometimes bummed that the only food I can get for my kids when driving home from somewhere and they’re both knocked out in the car is McDonalds or Jack-in-the-box. I typically settle for In n Out because that appears to be the ‘purest’ option… I know it’s shooting for the stars, but I really desire more drive-thru’s for healthier places.
  8. Josh is starting to love Kai.
    I was worried because I heard about how rough toddler boys can be with their baby bro’s (this isn’t completely untrue here). But Josh has been so great with his little bro as Kai becomes more interactive. The other day while Kai was napping on our couch and I was playing Lego’s with Josh, he would get up every 2 minutes or so and walk over to kiss Kai on the head, all the while saying “shhhh baby Kai is sleeping!” or whispering to Kai, “it’s okay baby, I’m right next to you”. This killlllllls me. You can’t tell here, but they super love each other 🙂 🙂

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  9. It’s hard being half in & half out. 
    Do any other part-time working mothers feel this? Although, I still stand by the opinion that working part-time is ideal for me, I also feel like I’m not really winning at anything. You know how some moms are stay-at-home and ‘pinterest-y’ and on PTA board and amazing? I’m not that. And you know how other moms are rising to the top at work and kicking butt in the professional world? I’m not that either. I feel sort of half in and half out everywhere. I know this isn’t totally true and I will surely find a groove as I get older and more seasoned… but right now, I feel pretty all over the place.
  10. Amazon Prime is saving my life.
    Thank you, Amazon Prime, for saving me from making endless trips to Target or the grocery story. Thank you for free shipping and TWO-day shipping and a cheaper option for just about everything. Thank you for super quick Christmas shopping & birthday gift shopping and letting me know what’s a best-seller & what isn’t. Thank you for letting me subscribe to diapers & wipes & laundry detergent.
    You have made this #crazymomlife a little less chaotic.

What Worked (& didn’t) in 2016

So much happened in 2016 that I’m not sure I can condense it all into one post. I got my first job as an occupational therapist (wahoo!), found out I was pregnant (yay!) & gave birth to a healthy chunk-a-monk, Kai Daniel 🙂 We are so thrilled to start our journey as a family of 4 this year, as I resume work, Josh starts preschool & Nick keeps powering through in ministry.

Here’s a summary of silly & not-so-silly things of what worked & DIDN’T work for me in 2016:

What Worked in 2016

  • Books about food
    I didn’t read much in 2016, but when I did pick up a book and stick to it, it often ended up being about food. My favorite books this year, hands-down, have been Bread and WineHow to Celebrate Everything, and The Sprinkles Baking Book. Two of these books are basically cookbooks with personal anecdote woven in, one of these books (Bread and Wine) is a memoir with recipes woven in. It’s safe to say I love food & reading about it. It sounds straightforward, but there’s more to it than that: What I’ve learned definitively is that I love the way food ties people together. It creates tradition, instills meaning, and tends to be the centerpiece for celebration. Food fosters relationship and communicates love. If anything, it’s taught me the importance of sharing my table & inviting others into our home, even when things are messy (literally & figuratively).
    Next on my list: Dinner: A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach
  • Overnight oats
    The best and easiest breakfast for someone who tends to either not know what to eat in the morning or skip this meal all together. I now have something quick to grab as I leave for work (or as I’m taking care of the children) that’s both yummy & nutritious.
    *Favorite (& most used) overnight oats recipe found here.
  • All-natural cleaning products
    We made the switch this year to only using all-natural products (everything from dish soap to laundry detergent to all-purpose cleaner… everything). This makes me so much more comfortable and less paranoid about what toxins I’m exposing to my kiddo’s.
  • Our first holiday in Los Angeles
    Our first big holiday spent away from family (Thanksgiving), which was weird and sad for both Nick & I. We did, however, realize that we’re becoming a real-deal family now… one that can create new family traditions & still feel a sense of belonging, even when we’re not with extended family.  Although we missed family a ton, it was nice to keep things low key. I forget how crazy the holidays are until you spend one relaxing & staying in.
  • Experiences > Things
    We made the commitment this year to invest more in our experiences rather than things. As an adult, my fondest memories as a child were the times I spent with family, vacations we went on, the parties my parents threw, the community we built… Barbies & American Girl Dolls (as much fun as they are) can’t really love you back. So we decided to not buy toys for Josh this year as best we could, and instead use that money to build memories, go places, see people, etc.
  • Asking for Help
    I still have a longggg way to go in this arena, but at some point this past year, I decided to challenge myself to ask for help when I needed it. If there’s anything that’s particularly difficult for me, it’s receiving from people when I am in need (and nothing has shown me how needy I am quite like becoming a mommy of two tiny boys). I’m going to continue working on this in 2017.

What Didn’t Work in 2016

  • I didn’t exercise
    I did not exercise, pretty much at all in 2016. Unless you count walking 1x per week with a girlfriend. In my defense, I was either pregnant or nursing a newborn the entire year. Cheers to a more disciplined & healthy 2017 🙂
  • I didn’t have healthy eating habits
    Nick & I realized that we ate out A LOT this year. This is probably due to the fact that I a) got a job and b) moved to little saka (best Asian food in West LA). We’re kicking off 2017 with a fast for the next few weeks (the Daniel fast, to be specific) and hoping that this will be a good launch to start eating healthy this year (among other things).
  • I didn’t read much
    Not sure why… it was probably because I began work and became pregnant and had a baby… all the distraction seemed to interfere with my ‘read for leisure’ time. I plan and hope to read more this year.
  • I didn’t date much
    My husband. I didn’t date my husband much because we just didn’t get a lot of date nights / just him-and-I time. We plan on changing this in 2017 and hopefully pencilling in at least once a month date nights 🙂

What worked & didn’t for YOU in 2016?

10 Things I Learned in August

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  1. I am officially a “Review Kick” user.
    Maybe I’m late to the game, but have you heard of this? You sign up at Review Kick (either as a seller or a reviewer) to receive certain Amazon products at a heavily discounted rate in exchange for a review. You pick your product, wait to get approved, then purchase, use & review. I just got my first item (a diaper bag) at 67% off! So great! Haven’t been using this site long enough to really say how much I like it, but so far, I very much appreciate the discounted diaper bag 🙂
  2. I love reading & taking notes on my Kindle.
    It took me a while to get used to. And I still think it is no replacement for your good old fashioned book. But I certainly read quicker on it and I can store all of my notes in one place. In fact, I just emailed myself a doc of everything that’s been hi-lighted & noted in my most recent kindle book (“Uninvited” by Lysa Terkeurst… so good btw).
  3. As Christians, we cannot claim to love Jesus while completely ignoring injustice. This is a form of hypocrisy.
    Jesus loves justice. If we love him & claim to follow him, we must care about the things he cares about. I see unending injustice locally, nationally globally… yet the church in America (as a whole) appears to be largely silent about it. Can we say we love Jesus & follow him, while at the same time, refuse to engage with or even care about issues of injustice? I’m not sure. It’s sad to notice this so-often true reality: We don’t look like our Christ. We don’t love & care about the things He cares about (the marginalized, the hurting, the broken). If the church truly looked the way Jesus had envisioned, people would be flooding through our doors. I will be the first to admit that I am no where near where I want to be, nor do I know as much as I would like surrounding this topic. But I do know that I am desperately longing for change… for knowledge… and for there to be continued dialogue and open conversation amongst Christians (& others) in regards to what God’s heart for justice is.
  4. The ‘Frozen’ musical at Disneyland is AMAZING. And could probably be a broadway show.
    Besides the fact that it would be too short (it’s about an hour long), this musical is legit. So many amazing singers, actors, and on top of all that, incredible stage & light effects that I’m eager to see again. Oh and I also want to mention that one of the actresses that plays Elsa is definitely bi-racial (black/white)… I thought this was an awesome move on Disney’s end.
  5. I still need to see Selma.
    Suddenly realized last week that I still have not seen this film about the civil rights movement (after being told repeatedly to go see it). I gotta get on that.
  6. If you are bored and want to freshen up your place, re-arrange the furniture.
    We’ve completely changed up Josh’s room (which he will now be sharing with his baby bro) and have also migrated Nick’s desk (aka home office). Definitely feels fun and like our apartment is new again 🙂 Sometimes it’s nice to shake things up.
  7. I cannot remember what it’s like to have a newborn.
    I’m 39 weeks and counting… slightly more prepared than a few weeks ago, but still feeling like I don’t remember anything from last time. My most recent google searches have been “what goes in a newborn diaper bag” and “what do you pack for the hospital labor/delivery”.
  8. Joshua cannot stop singing, “It’s a Small World After All”.
    He literally sings this song every… single… day. My and Nick’s alarm clock is Joshua singing this song (no exaggeration). And as an added bonus, he thinks it’s hilarious to replace the last word with something silly. Some of his favorite ‘versions’ of this song are: “It’s a small world after mannequin” and “It’s a small world after boat”.
  9. I want to take a family trip to Iran.
    Okay, I know you think this is insane… but it’s really not too crazy. My whole life, I thought I would never go because I kept hearing how unsafe it is (and in some ways, it is). But my dad made the trip this year (for the first time in 37 years) and everything went so smoothly. There are multiple reasons why I want to go: it’s beautiful, we have family there, a place to stay and people to help with our kiddo’s. I would love to see & explore a place so incredibly different from the US. Now to weigh out the pro’s & con’s and figure out if the logistics are possible… we’ll see 🙂
  10. I have become a coffee snob.
    It’s not like I meant for this to happen. In fact, when people have asked me in the past if I’m picky about my coffee, I would always so absolutely not. But living in LA, I have inadvertantly gotten so accustomed to these high-end coffee places, solely because they’re close by (& it’s simply what you do in LA). Places like Philz, The Refinery, Blue Bottle, Intelligentsia, Conservatory… I had Starbucks coffee a few weeks ago and could barely get past a couple sips. Suddenly, it tasted absolutely disgusting. And burnt. When you start drinking good, quality coffee, you just can’t go back.

Happy Things ( June 2016)

It’s been over a year since I’ve made a ‘Happy Things’ post. And now felt like an appropriate time, because this pregnancy has been exhausting

**I will lay out the disclaimer that I am VERY excited to have another baby, grow our family and I feel incredibly blessed to be pregnant.**

However, this all does not change the fact that I constantly feel like I’m going to topple over from sheer exhaustion. I am actually quite amazed at how different two pregnancies can be. I’m getting bigger much more quickly. I have a job and a toddler (unlike last time). And my hormones are all over the place (actually, much like last time).

The good news is, there have been plenty of little things that have kept me going (besides wonderful family & friends). Little “twinkles of joy”, I’ll call them. Happy things. And here they are 🙂

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  • “Bread & Wine” by Shauna Niequist
    A book I had been meaning to read for a long time… it contains everything I love: God, mommy stories & food. Shauna Niequist essentially writes about her life and how most of her relationships are made ‘around the table’ where people gather for food & drinks… you eat with those you love. And she’s added in a recipe at the end of every chapter. I’ve already made 3 of them (Chocolate Mousse, Enchiladas, & Gaia Cookies). All have been amazing (although the Chocolate mousse is certainly the best AND easiest… will be posting that recipe soon).

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Our 4th of July Feast… Guess Niequist is right about food being a gathering place 🙂

  • Babyganics mineral-based sunscreen
    I’ve been lathering up Joshua’s face with this stuff.
    Confession: My bad mommy habit is that for the past couple years, I’ve done a pretty poor job at using sunscreen on Josh. It’s mostly b/c Nick & I never wear it (people with medium to dark skin tones don’t typically burn easy). So I always forget to put some on Josh & then feel awful. But I finally bought a big tube of Babyganics sunscreen and feel really great about this purchase 🙂
  • I got a Kindle!
    For my birthday! From my hubby! He was just asking me why I haven’t blogged about my Kindle yet… well here it is 🙂 I’ve only read one book on it so far (“Eleanor & Park” by Rainbow Rowell… so so good). I tend to read way faster on the kindle for some reason. And I love the I can hold josh in the rocking chair and read at the same time. This is going to be PERFECT for when baby #2 comes and I’ll need something light to hold & keep me entertained while I’m nursing. Definitely a top notch birthday gift.
  • My 27th Birthday
    Something I love about my birthday is that my husband loves my birthday… he doesn’t necessarily care about his own birthday… but he certainly loves mine. And I feel very blessed by this 🙂 It may be because he knows I feel super loved when I’m celebrated. But in any case, he went out of his way to make my birthday extra special. I am certainly looking forward to year 27.
  • Korean BBQ for Father’s Day
    We’ve come to the realization that celebrating Nick means going out to KBBQ. It’s definitely one of our favorite foods to eat & something we consider a treat. We had AYCE at “Road to Seoul” in Koreatown and it was amazing ($20 per person and kids under 3 eat for free!) Can’t wait for another reason to celebrate my hubby and go again 🙂
  • Saturday morning at the Grove
    My favorite time to go is bright and early Saturday morning: it’s mostly empty and Barnes & Noble opens before all the other stores. I took Josh on Saturday morning and we both had a blast. Maybe we’ll make this routine.
  • Small Group leading
    My husband and I began hosting a summer ‘small group’ through church that I lead with a friend. We’ve absolutely loved having people over & studying scripture together with a group. It’s been so life-giving in many different ways.
  • Mendocino Farms
    Nick & I tried this for the FIRST TIME this weekend with his family and our minds were absolutely blown. We all got something different & tried a little bit of each. Our favorites were certainly the “Proscuitto & Free Range Chicken” & the “Kurobuta Pork Belly Bahn Mi”. The Proscuitto one (which I ordered of course) tasted exactly like Italy. It took me straight back to when I was living in Florence six summers ago. After I took my first bite, I looked at Nick and said, “This is literally everything I want in a sandwich.” And it’s true. Nick agreed it was amazing. The Bahn Mi was also ridiculous. I couldn’t get enough of either. Go get ’em.

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My ‘tastes like Italy’ sandwich. heaven.

What I’m Into (May 2016)

I haven’t done a post like this in a while, so I was feeling up for it. Here’s a little peak into the things that have been saving me this month.

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PS… here’s Josh @ 9 months vs. 2 years… CAN.NOT.HANDLE.

Loving:

  • Bubble Baths
    This has been a true luxury ever since we moved into our new apartment. Our baths have JETS btw… which definitely kick it up a notch. I’ve taken a bath at least once a week for the past couple months, sometimes more. It is the perfect way for me to relax physically & mentally. I am looking into a bath tray so that if I wanted to I could watch, read or eat/drink during.
  • Old Navy Maternity
    Just discovered this thanks to my lovely mama friend who ventured with me over to Old Navy to check out some incredibly well-priced items. Left the store with 3 different maternity shirts (and I literally had none before). SCORE.
  • Bluewater Mission Sermons
    If anyone is looking into some quality sermon podcasts, I’ve begun listening to pastor Jordan Seng at Bluwater Mission church in Hawaii.
  • Movie in the Park
    My favorite part of L.A. summers (via Eat.See.Hear). Went to “Princess Bride” a few weeks ago and loved it… as for our next film: “500 Days of Summer”. Cannot WAIT.

Baby Loving:

  • Kid’s CamelBak
    Nick & I both agreed this is one of the best purchases we’ve made this year for Josh. He lovesssssss his CamelBak and drinks a ton of water now.
  • “No Fits Nilson!”
    Josh’s favorite book (currently). Requests it every single night. This book has inadvertently taught me some things about handling tantrums with toddlers.

Eating:

FYI: Nick and I have done a lot of eating out the past month… mostly in part to our new apartment being right by “little saka” which is mini Japan Town here in West LA. We’re walking distance from some top notch Asian restaurants and had to try out all the new spots nearby!

  • Tsujita LA
    Best ramen I’ve ever had. It’s the dipping ramen kind (tsukemen). We were dying to try it based off the crazy reviews and the never-ending line that they literally ALWAYS have. Nick and I can’t stop talking about it. Sounds exaggerative, but it’s really not.
  • Seoul Sausage Co.
    We got their flaming rice ball, Korean animal style fries & poutine (on two different occasions)…. So so SO yummy. An explosion of flavor in your mouth. A bit overpriced (for the amount of food you get), but definitely tasty. Lives up to the high # & rating of yelp reviews.
  • B SWEET
    We got the salted caramel bread pudding (small size) with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top to share. We were both in heaven. It’s really sweet but so so yummy. And the perfect size to share. Most people get it for themselves, but I think it’s better with another person.
  • Coffee Tomo
    Got their famous “tomo latte”, which is essentially a latte with sweetened condensced milk. The environment is a really great place to do some work or reading. And the latte was so so good. Overpriced… but delicious.

Listening to:

  • “Can’t Stop The Feeling” by Justin Timberlake
    And no, it has not gotten old 🙂

Watching:

  • The Bachelorette
    Because I can’t not. And I think JoJo is a great choice for bachelorette (she’s half Persian btw… I’m sure I’ve already told you). The season premiere was so-so but second episode was super entertaining… quality girls night event.

What are you into this month?

 

10 Things I Learned in March

  1. ‘The Wiggles’ is Joshua’s new favorite show.
    Step aside Daniel the Tiger. My dancing, singing toddler is ALL about the Wiggles right now. Not to mention mom & dad are pretty into it too… the songs are so darn catchy.
  2. The Hydroflask water bottle is absolutely worth it.
    I finally caved and bought the highly rated & excessively talked about HYDROFLASK. It keeps my water cold all day long. That’s actually not an exaggeration… I filled up my water bottle with ice & water before bed and in the morning, the ice had still not melted. That’s pretty incredible.
  3. Joshua & I love playing tourists in L.A.
    The past couple weeks have been filled with fun visits: exploring the venice canals, beverly hills, new parks & libraries… On my days off, I typically take josh to daycare (because we’re already paying for it and because it gives me a chance to rest & get work done). But last week, I decided to skip daycare and spend more time with him. It’s been more refreshing than I imagined 🙂
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  4. Our family has a lot of transition coming up.
    New baby. New apartment. I still even consider my job new… There are a lotttt of changes about to take place! Very excited 🙂
  5. This pregnancy is taking a much bigger toll on me than I anticipated.
    I’m cranky. I’m unendingly tired… and the fatigue keeps me from doing the things I normally do (exercise, write, read). My body is seriously spent. I recently caved and had a much-needed cup of coffee (with approval from the OB). Being pregnant with a toddler & a job is so much harder than women get credit for.
  6. Zootopia. is. everything.
    So I feel as though I cannot put into words the way I feel about this movie. It was so SO good. I was blown away at how well it reflected the systemic racial injustice of our society in a not-so-subtle way. I even think they were making a statement about the upcoming election… but Nick says that’s a stretch.
  7. I’m nervous about going from 1 kid to 2 kids.
    I am so grateful to be pregnant and that God is blessing us with a fourth family member. But I am also pretty nervous about all the changes about to ensue… many, many of our friends have said that the transition from 1 kid to 2 kids was harder than any other transition (harder than 0-to-1 or 2-to-3). I would love to hear suggestions from parents on how to best prepare for becoming a family of 4.
  8. My heart is filled when I do ministry.
    I’ve come to the realization that one of the reasons I don’t want to work full-time as an OT is because my heart is also in so many other places… with the limited free time I have, I want to be spending time with my son (obviously) and also a portion of it doing something else I love- ministry. Not that OT can’t be a form of ministry… but since the start of college, I’ve always served & led within the church and I’m not sure I could do with less of it. It’s been an internal struggle for me the past few years wondering if I for sure want to go into healthcare or if I want to be doing ministry full-time. I landed on healthcare for various reasons (& I’m glad I did), but I know that I don’t want to do it full-time because I adore the time I give to ministry and know that I wouldn’t have energy for it if I was working full-time. I hope & believe that one day I’ll go into ministry as a vocation… but that’ll be way down the line.
  9. I’ve taken a break from reading (apparently).
    I’m normally a very avid reader, but I haven’t picked up a book since January… and it’s April. On the contrary, Nick finished a 750-page book (Harry Potter 7) in a month… which is CRAZY for Nick! I haven’t been reading, but I definitely got my husband into it 🙂 if anyone has good book suggestions that will get me back in the books, please send ’em my way!
  10. I want to try calligraphy.
    I’ve always wanted to… thinking about picking it up. Anyone have any recommendations for how to get started?

What I’m Into (October 2015)

A lot of books this month… not much TV/media… and a few food items. Enjoy 🙂

Books:

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  • The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown
    I inhaled this book way too quickly and wish I had taken my sweet time with it. I absolutely love Brown and her research. I learned a LOT from this book (although, I will admit it was incredibly similar to “Daring Greatly”). However, she did provide practicals at the end of each chapter on how to start applying what you’re learning. It’s a truly spectacular book. I’d recommend it to anyone. Literally anyone.
  • For the Love by Jen Hatmaker
    Ah, Jen Hatmaker. I love her. She writes about all the things I want to write about. She says all the things I want to say to the world. And I absolutely love her voice in books: authentic, transparent, and absolutely HILARIOUS. I will say however, I would NOT recommend this be the first book of hers that you read. Start with “Interrupted” or “7”. This book is a tiny bit all over the place… kind of like riding her brain waves. I loved it, of course, but if you’ve never read any of her books, I wouldn’t start with this one.
  • Why Not Me by Mindy Kaling
    A fun, lounge-y read. I loved her first book so I had to pick up her second. People warn that this book isn’t as good as her first, but I actually love it just as much (so far)! She talks a ton about her path to getting where she is now.
  • Anything: The Prayer that Unlocked My God & My Soul by Jennie Allen
    Reading this with a group of girlfriends via a virtual book club. It’s been so fun to chat about this book together and re-connect every week (even if it’s digital). This book is challenging and an interesting read so far about total & complete sacrifice of your life to Christ.
  • Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
    I am proud and excited to announce that I officially got my husband to start reading HP! And he LOVES it! It’s as J.K. Rowling says, “If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.”

Food Items:

  • Sweet potatoes
    I can honestly say that I have added this to every. single. meal this week. No I’m not kidding. I’ve realized it ALWAYS kicks the meal up a notch. Enchiladas? Try it with roasted sweet potatoes. BOOM. Stuffed bell peppers? add the sweet potatoes. Chili? add ’em. Seriously, anything at all… sweet potatoes are not just healthy, but will kick any meal up a notch.
    Here’s a simple, easy peasy recipe for roasted sweet potatoes (pretty much what I do): http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/roasted-sweet-potatoes-with-honey-butter-recipe.html
  • Apple Sauce (Unsweetened)
    This has been key in our house. We add it to Josh’s oatmeal every morning and he gobbles it all up like it’s ice cream. We’ve also been substituting a lot of sweeteners in dessert with this and it’s worked great.
  • EatPastry: chocolate chip (vegan cookie dough)
    Found this at a specialty grocery store and had to try it. It was amazing. Nick & I both loved it.
  • The Cookie Dough Cafe (edible cookie dough)
    I saw this on the Shark Tank last year and was desperately craving it the other day so I googled the nearest place that sells them and went to buy a personal-sized cup of it. It was sooooooo delicious. The bad news: super unhealthy. The good news: Every ingredient is recognizable! So at least you know what you’re eating.

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Other Items:

  • Aveeno Facial Sunscreen (spf 55+)
    A couple things:
    1. I’ve been noticing random dark spots appearing on my face… typically in the shape of a faded mole. At first I was worried and then I started asking around about it… turns out it’s the sun. THE SUN. Looks like I’m aging, y’all.
    2. I’ve switched over to Aveeno from Neutrogena because I’ve heard the Neutrogena sunscreen is no longer recommended… anyone else heard this? Either way… Aveeno’s been great 🙂
  • Day One: a journal for the iPhone, iPad & Mac
    Okay, so I don’t actually have this yet, but my husband has it and loves it. I’m definitely a “journal-er”, but I’m kind of getting tired of the paper & pen (never EVER though I’d say that)… thinking of giving Day One a shot.

10 Things I Learned in September (2015)

1. I’ve become the master of cheap, stay-at-home date nights.
Why? Well we can’t always pay for a fancy evening out and we can’t always find a sitter. So of course I have become the queen of stay-at-home date nights. My most recent favorite: Harry Potter nights. Next on my list? ‘Cupcake Wars’ night. I’ll give you a glimpse of what it looks like: a lot of baking. competition. and yummy yummy goodness.

2. I don’t know what my ideal activity of leisure is.
It’s so important to find time to do what you love… but I’m honestly not sure what that is! I like to read and write… I’ve enjoyed my adult coloring book and I obviously love socializing with friends. But I want to find some hobby that really makes me excited. Like how some people love DIY projects or others enjoy knitting… what am I into? I really don’t know.

3. I want to try the paleo diet.
It sounds incredibly tough, but I think I’m up for the challenge! And I’m in serious need of a physical detox. Anyone want to join me? I plan on purchasing the book, “Against All Grain” by Danielle Walker.

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4. It takes so much energy to discipline my child.
I realize now why disciplining is so SO important. They pick up bad habits quickly. It’s infinitely easier to not discipline. Should I clean up his whole mess in 5 minutes? Or spend 20 minutes making him do it? Well, of course the latter. But, man, it’s exhausting.

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5. My skin can’t tolerate drugstore makeup.
I tried getting the “trublend” foundation by Covergirl & also one of their concealers. It actually looks great on and it matches my skin tone perfectly… the problem is, I break out every single time I wear it. Every single time! I’m not sure my skin can tolerate anything other than Bare Minerals.

6. We found our “go-to” park.
It’s right by the library, which makes it perfect. We go back and forth between the two 🙂

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7. All parents do things differently. And that’s okay.
Before I became a parent, I would see other kids behaving badly and secretly think “why aren’t they disciplining their kid?” or “I would never let my kid….” blah blah blah. How judgmental and crazy of me. Now I know the struggle. Now I know the crazy that is all children.

8. I hate it (& love it) when I have too many good options.
Like this Friday. Do I go to a Korean Karaoke night? Or do I go meet Mindy Kaling at Barnes & Noble for her book signing? Decisions, decisions…

9. Paper planners are where it’s at.
I can’t (& won’t) switch to an electronic planner. No thanks, Google calendar. I am too in love with my paper & pen planner (Lily Pulitzer). And I cannot wait for next year when I splurge and get an Erin Condren planner… EEEE! I already informed my husband that it would make the perfect Christmas gift 🙂

10. “The American Dream” is not worth chasing.
A little bit more serious of a lesson… I realized recently that I am often torn between decisions that reflect whether I’m chasing after the American Dream or serving people, as God has called me to. Whether it’s where we’re going to live next, how we’re going to spend our surplus this month or what we’re going to do for Thanksgiving… our decisions often reflect whether we’re serving God’s kingdom or our own. We’re either generous with our money or we store up for ourselves. Do I want to live in the nice suburbs with the high-class schools & economically monotonous population? Or am I going to venture outside my comfort zone? Hmm… I honestly don’t know. Convicting.

Everything I Love Right Now (September 2015)

Books:

  • Sabbath Keeping by Lynne M. Baab
    Absolutely loving this book. The point of the book is essentially that we cannot fully understand God’s grace & sovereignty without practicing the sabbath (a day of rest). I’ve only read a few chapters so far, but it’s been incredible.

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  • The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst
    I’m going to be honest here: I really wanted to like this book. I really really did. It’s not that I didn’t like it, per se… It just seemed pretty simplistic to me. Definitely no new information or strategies that I did not already know. A good reminder of course and I agreed with everything she had to say. It’s an incredibly relevant topic: making assertive and wise decisions, being confident in them and sticking with them. And it’s something I struggle with greatly. However, I had a tough time finishing the book.

TeleVision:

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  • The Mindy Project
    So first of all… obsessed with her. obviously. Second, the season premiere stars Joseph Gordon Levitt (love him). Third, she is just SO funny. Like laugh out loud funny. And I adore her and Danny as a couple (not to mention the fact that they’re a stellar interracial TV romance).
  • Shark Tank
    Did anyone see Ashton Kutcher on the season premiere? He was AWESOME. It’s going to be a fun change to have so many guest sharks this season. Also, this is the one show Nick & I love watching together.
  • Fresh off the Boat
    Actually, I take that back… Nick and I love watching Fresh off the Boat too! The season premiere was hilarious. Nick related on a level that I can’t even describe, so that’s saying something. Also, now that I’m a part of his family, I relate in some ways too! It’s great.

Experiences:

  • Community Bible Study
    I just joined Community Bible Study, an international non-profit where people get together (in different cities all over the world!) and simply study the bible. It’s once a week and we’re going through the book of Isaiah. AND there’s phenomenal child care (where they actually learn about Jesus). It’s been wonderful. And keeping me constantly in the word. This is exactly what I’ve been needing.
  • Harry Potter Nights
    So the best thing has happened… I got Nick into Harry Potter! How, you ask? Well, he lost a bet. And since I won, I told him that we need to have a Harry Potter night where we watch the first movie together. We made it into a real deal slumber party (PJ’s, pillows and blankets on the floor in the living room and TONS of snacks). He loved the movie and decided we need to watch ALL of them. So far we’ve had two harry potter nights and he’s already eager for the third. Although, now I’m desperately trying to get him to read the books before we watch them, but he’s pretty against it. Anyone want to help me convince him?

Items I’m Loving:

  • Adult Coloring Book
    Therapy… I mean, seriously, therapy. I’ve been loving my adult coloring book and have been using Prisma Colored Pencils (they’re fancy, but I had a 50% off coupon to Michaels). I have the “Enchanted Forest” one. It’s everything I love.

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  • Dead Sea Mud Mask
    One of the best exfoliation masks I’ve purchased. Made in Israel and they use mud from the dead sea for skin cleansing & exfoliation. I got mine off amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Majestic-Pure-Dead-Sea-Mask/dp/B00UREAGU8/ref=sr_1_1?s=beauty&ie=UTF8&qid=1443470641&sr=1-1-spons&keywords=dead+sea+mud+mask