10 Things I Learned in April

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  1. My new book about motherhood & travel speaks to my soul.
    I’m only about a third of the way through the book (At Home in the World: Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe), and have loved it so far. It’s a memoir written by a wife & mom of 3 kids who longs for travel. Her & her husband decided to take nine months out of the year to travel the world (while their youngest was 4!) and this is her journal during that time. I’ve enjoyed it so far because I relate to it that longing and have for a while. But I have never been sure what to do with it since so many moms & families with young kids tend to stay put and save the ‘big trips’ for when everyone’s older. Reading her journey normalizes my desire.
  2. I need to start making my own sourdough bread.
    I LOVE sourdough bread. Pretty sure we buy two baguettes every week from Trader Joe’s. I’m excited to start making my own. Any suggestions from those that already do this?
  3. Learning how to cut boys hair would be a wonderful & very resourceful skill.
    Primarily because taking him to get a haircut at the salon feels like such an ordeal… not to mention a frequent ordeal. Especially in LA where we haven’t even found a regular place yet. Ideally, I would just do it myself. Any suggestions from mama’s who cut their own boys’ hair would be appreciated.
  4. Ed Sheeran’s new album is everything I’ve been craving from music.
    Seriously. I’ve been desperate for new music & it is exactly what I’ve been looking for. My favorites are “Supermarket Flowers”, “Dive” & “Happier”.
  5. I love Trader Joe’s for many reasons, but the main one is this: lack of options.
    Ok there are SO MANY REASONS to love TJ’s. But the limited amount of items they have is actually al big one.
    Believe it or not, one of the reasons Americans tend have high anxiety (relative to people from other developed countries) is in part due to the insane amount of options we have on a daily basis. The fact that you have twenty different brands of strawberry jam to choose from at the grocery store is pretty unheard of in other parts of the world. To some, this may seem fantastic that we have a billion choices for everything, but in reality, even something as trivial as needing to choose which jam to buy every week has lasting effects on our day-to-day mental health. I buy everything from Trader Joe’s regularly so I typically don’t have more than one option for any food item (nor did I think this was super impactful). However, last week, I ventured over to Vons (for whatever reason) and I cannot tell you how much more stressful my grocery shopping experience was. I came home & told Nick I am sticking to TJ’s as much as possible. For an event as frequent as grocery shopping, I would HIGHLY recommend sticking to a place where you know what you’re getting & can rest assured you can grocery shop at a moderate level of peace.
  6. I can always count on my toddler to point out the imperfections on my face.
    As he presses into a new zit on my chin, “Mommy what’s THAT?”… Nothing like a toddler to keep you humble.
  7. Trevor Noah’s “Born a Crime” is a life-changing read.
    For so many reasons, this book had me mulling over it for several weeks after I finished it. Through his own story, he teaches readers so much about systemic injustice, racial inequality, poverty, privilege, politics… I loved that this was primarily a story about his mother & their relationship. I am still pondering over their journey & all the general truths it’s revealed to me about our world. I cannot recommend it enough.
  8. I got Hamilton Tickets!
    I need to take a second to celebrate & express gratitude over this amazing purchase… I am a firm believer in spending on experience. Money spent on experience is rarely wasted. I cannot WAIT to see Hamilton this year!
  9. I know I’m in desperate need of quality rest / ‘me’ time when I yell at my kids.
    I try my best to not raise my voice at or around my children, but I faltered this week when josh took his cup of orange juice & purposely poured it onto the carpet (in the midst of already-happening chaos). Still learning how to lovingly & consistently discipline in a way that isn’t out of anger or impulse.
  10. Following health food & lifestyle bloggers has upped my healthy food habits ten fold.
    I have been seriously loving our food habits this year and finally adhering to my resolution to eat healthier… primarily, I’ve loved finding ways to eat nutritious, healthy foods without sacrificing flavor or breaking the bank. And the fact that chia seeds, almond butter & hemp hearts are regular additions to my current diet is an accomplishment. My go-to bloggers have been minimalist baker & oh she glows. Favorite recipes to come soon.
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Little Joys (& Life Lessons) in March

Reflection & Gratitude time. Here’s what I’ve been up to the last month:

  • Reading:
    Where’d You Go Bernadette
    Not to sound dramatic, but this book is everything I want in a book… I mean if you were to ask me what type of book is my favorite, I would say one like this: a light-hearted, funny-but-deep story with strong female leads and super engaging writing. I loved the mother-daughter dynamic in this book and so much of the story spoke to my soul in ways I’m still processing.

    When Breath Becomes Air
    This is going on my ‘books that changed my life’ shelf, right next to Daring Greatly and Kisses from Katie. This book should be a requirement for people working in healthcare (but still such a thought-provoking & beautiful read for anyone). If Bill Gates & his wife tell you it’s the best non-fiction book they’ve read… you read it.

  • Realizing:
    -I don’t know how to get back into an exercise routine. Fellow moms? How do you do it? When I have two little children and only a smidgen of free time in the day, do I really have to spend it exercising? Calling out an SOS for how to start working out again.
  • Enjoying:
    -Baby Kai… my chill baby. I love having a baby again. There are some obstacles that come with having a baby, of course… but it’s just so fun snuggling with my little nugget. They grow up so much quicker the second time, don’t they?
  • Eating:
    -Arugula salad. This is my new favorite, quick, throw-together salad that goes with pretty much every meal. It’s just arugula, lemon juice, olive oil & freshly cracked pepper, all tossed together.

    -DIY Breakfast bars. Ever since my & nick’s fast in January, we’ve been making our own breakfast bars and they’re amazing. All you need is to throw dates & cashews in a food processor & you’re done (everything else is extra, but we sometimes throw in pecans, raisins, almonds, etc. as well).

    -Mocha Joe Joe’s. Have you seen these on the shelves at Trader Joe’s? I’m too embarrassed to tell you how many I ate in one sitting. All I’ll say is you should try them.

  • Watching:
    The People vs OJ
    This show has me locked in. And it’s actually quite historically accurate. I vaguely remember my parents watching the OJ trials back when I was a kid. It’s super interesting seeing all that happened behind the scenes.

    The Crown
    My replacement for Downton. LOVE IT. Just waiting for season 2 now 🙂

  • Trying:
    Bulletproof coffee. I haven’t decided how I feel about it yet. Still feels weird to put butter & coconut oil in my coffee…
  • Listening to:
    -Beauty & The Beast Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
    I’m singing this all day long.
  • Rejoicing in:
    -Our amazing friends & family.
    You guys, I know I say this almost every single post, but it’s so true… I love you guys.

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?

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.

Best Ever Banana Bread

The past month has been a doozy. Both of my children AND my husband have alternated being sick back-to-back-to-back for the last several weeks. We’ve all been cooped up at home with blankets, fever-reducer, hot tea & an ever-running humidifier. Needless to say, as keeper of the house, I’ve been relying on a steady stream of coffee to keep me up & alert (feeling like Lorelei Gilmore right about now).

With all this going on, our fam’s been feeling quite gloomy. Not to mention, our country’s current state of affairs has had my husband and I in even more of a rut.

I had a lot I wanted to say about how difficult things have been dealing with the current #muslimban and having family that still reside in Iran… How much pain I am in knowing that there are millions (billions?) of displaced refugees, scrounging for safety while our country slams the door in their face. I’ve been reading story after story of what’s going on globally and it’s left me at a loss for words.

And I still don’t have words to give you.

This morning was one where all I could really do was pray. Pray for the many who are suffering… pray for our country… pray for wisdom on how to help from an area as remote as Los Angeles.

I also decided it was a morning that needed a pick-me-up. An incredible cup of coffee (from our new french press), the Hamilton Mixtape playing on Spotify, and this new, unbelievable recipe for home-made banana bread.

If you’re in need of a pick-me-up too, I’d highly recommend doing what I suggested above^^. Pray, pray, pray. Give thanks. And maybe try some self-care (in the form of baking to Hamilton music).

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BEST EVER BANANA BREAD

INGREDIENTS

  • 1cup butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3-4 bananas, finely crushed
  • 1 1cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350º.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar.
  3. Add eggs and crushed bananas.
  4. Combine well.
  5. Sift together flour, soda, cinnamon and salt. Add to creamed mixture. Add vanilla.
  6. Mix just until combined. Do not overmix.
  7. Pour into greased loaf pan.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.
  9. Keeps well in an airtight container, refrigerated.

**I would highly suggest serving alongside an incredible cup of coffee and some fresh, home-made whipped cream 🙂 

On Working & Mommying

It’s no secret that I was both excited and anxious to go back to work. Excited because sometimes being home all day with two kids feels more tiring than spending the day mobilizing patients at the hospital. Anxious because, well… obvious reasons. The main one being that I knew how badly I would miss my two boys (especially our new chunk-a-monk, who, by the way, is sporting a onesie sized ‘9-months’ at only 4 months of age in the photos above).

Last week was my first week back to work and it’s proven to be very bittersweet. On one hand, it feels amazing to have my own time & agenda again… even though it’s only two days a week. Having that itty bitty amount of space helps me, in some ways, to feel like an adult again. I enjoy getting to be social with grown-ups AND using my brain the way I used to (or at least attempting to)… back to critical thinking for treatments and re-learning the language for documentation.
That’s the sweet. The bitter is that my precious boys get less time with me. And although two days a week seems pretty minimal, it feels like a monumental change. Especially for Kai, who only got 4-months of mom at home full-time (Josh got 9 months).

A few things I’ve come to learn & appreciate about motherhood & working with two:

  1. Every mom needs something different work-wise.
    I’ve talked to loads & loads of moms about this issue. Some feel very strongly that they’re called to be at home full-time with the kids. Others feel that it’s important to stay committed to the workplace & set a good example for the kiddo’s. Some need the money. Many find themselves somewhere in between… I say God knows what your children need. He knows my boys and he knows that they need a mom who’s both at home and kicking butt at work. I love being home, but I also love what I do… The more I take care of myself, the better I can take care of my kids. Working part time is the perfect balance for me and for my children. I am all for women embracing whichever route they choose 🙂
  2. Sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do.
    There are weeks where I really wish I didn’t have to go to work. This past week for example… my toddler got an ear & respiratory infection that left him coughing incessantly and sporting a high fever several days in a row. I cannot tell you how badly I wished I wasn’t working. But someone needs to make ends meet at the end of the day. Lucky for me, my husbands work schedule is flexible and he was able to take some time at home… but, boy, was it tough to be away.
  3. A little bit goes a long way.
    Even just working a couple days a week has done a lot for my wellbeing. It’s re-energized me in a way that I never thought work could do… it’s given me a sense of self & purpose again; it’s provided me with a way to serve that I’ve always been passionate about. And of course, it’s lightened some of the financial burden that comes with living in L.A.
  4. Easy weeknight meals are a life-saver.
    I could not be more grateful for go-to meals that are both delicious AND nutritious. I think every mom should have a stack of recipes stored up that are quick to make & wonderful. My ability to cook certain meals well & fast has become key… especially the dinners whose ingredients I can always find sitting in our pantry and fridge.

    On this note, I wanted to leave you guys with one of my most used recipes, korean ground beef bowls. My husband and toddler love this (as do I) and it comes together super fast. For everyone looking for a quick, scrumptious weeknight dinner… this ones for you 🙂

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Korean Beef Bowls

Ingredients

  • 1/4 C brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 C reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp crushed red-pepper flakes, or more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 TBS vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.5 pounds ground beef
  • 1 TBS sesame seeds

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, red pepper flakes and ginger.
  2. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add ground beef and cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes, making sure to crumble the beef as it cooks; drain excess fat.
  3. Stir in soy sauce mixture and green onions until well combined, allowing to simmer until heated through, about 2 minutes.
  4. Serve immediately, garnished with green onion and sesame seeds, if desired.
    **I like to serve this alongside steamed green beans & brown rice.

recipe slightly adapted from damn delicious

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?

What I’m Into (November 2016)

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Hello all!

Wow… what a crazy month it’s been. I am thrilled to report that sleep has improved & my brain is feeling infinitely less mushy 🙂

Kai is now 10 weeks old and has somewhat of a normalized routine (that I’m sure will change as soon as I get used to it). We are getting out of the house more frequently & socializing again… I am taking a healthy amount of showers and changing out of my PJ’s each morning. Slowly inching my way back into normalcy.

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So much has happened in November! We spent our first Thanksgiving in LA, which happened to be way more relaxing than Bay Area Thanksgiving’s (during which, we pack in 3 different houses in one day). We took family photos for the first time ever and absolutely love them. Countless friends have either gotten engaged or pregnant this month… needless to say, we have not been short of celebration 🙂

I’m eager to write about SO MANY THINGS but energy & time are still lacking. I’ll be keeping my posts more condensed & less ‘hodge podge’-y in the future. But for now… here’s a hodge podge of what I’ve been into this past month:

Books & Lit

I should start out by letting you know, I actually haven’t read a new book since baby. But here’s what’s on my to-read list… and I plan on getting on it ASAP.

  • Barefoot by Sharon Garlough Brown. The third installment in her “sensible shoes” series. This is Christian Fiction, which I normally hate, but I absolutely LOVE her storytelling. I read the first two books within a few days and have been eagerly awaiting the third, which finally came out last month.
  • Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. This is his memoir about growing up biracial in Apartheid South Africa… very curious to read.
  • Embrace the Coming Light by Eddy Ekmekji & Tyler Watson. If you’re in need of an advent devotional to go through this Christmas season, I highly recommend this one. I went through it last year and loved it.

Baby Stuff

  • Potty Training. Well I’m not “into this”, but I am certainly doing it… and man, what an ordeal. We’re taking on the ‘naked for a week’ approach and it’s actually gone quite well so far. Josh is at the stage where he’s going to the potty on his own now without us needing to tell him. We have not ventured out of the house yet or tried undies… am very curious to see how that will go.
  • Kai & Josh bro love is totally happening and it’s the most heart-warming thing in the world.

Watching

Is anyone else not loving Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life? I just finished it and really enjoyed the last episode, but the first three were pretty painful to get through. Also the show had a lot of moments that I found inappropriate (some racially insensitive things and some body-shaming things… anyone else notice that?) Overall, GG makes me nostalgic so it was mostly worth watching.

Both Nick and I are still in love with This is Us and Jane the Virgin.

I have also (somewhat shamefully) tried watching Ben & Lauren Happily Ever After (every episode) but am not sure why. It is very obviously scripted and not all that entertaining.

Foodie

You guys… remember how I mentioned the Sprinkles Baking Book last time? Well, I bought it and am absolutely obsessed. I have already made two of the recipes (the chocolate marshmallow cupcakes were to die for) and I have picked a few more I want to make over the holidays. The book is about 1/3 cupcake recipes and 2/3 other desserts.

Another new sweet obsession (for both Nick & I) are chocolate chip dunkers from trader joe’s, which we dip in our coffee. We both ‘mmm’ & ‘ahhh’ & ‘ughhh’ every single time.

Lastly, I made my first ever meatloaf this month when my friend passed along her recipe. Very proud of myself for making such an all-american dish (usually we stick to Asian). It turned out super yum.
A side note: meatloaf is AMAZING for children because you can stuff it with veggies (I chose kale & bell peppers) and they’ll gobble it right up.

Fashion

Thanks to to Marie Kondo’s famous book, the life-changing magic of tidying up, I realized a few weeks ago that I have no cold-weather clothes. Why, you ask? I thoughtlessly tossed out all my warm coats, shawls & jackets while purging “things I haven’t worn in 6 months”… and, incidentally, Los Angeles CAN INDEED get chilly in the winter (& even during the fall!). So I splurged a bit on cyber Monday when I suddenly realized I’d need a jacket or two.

*I will also add that my favorite items thus far this cold holiday season have been, without question, my oversized grey cardigan and my cozy jogger pants (if you’re also in need of an item or two check them out ;)).

Little Things In Between

  • My new favorite coffee shop (Balconi Coffee) is walking distance from our apartment and has the most unreal almond essence latte on the planet. I crave it every day.
  • Our fireplace is making the holidays in LA feel a little more winter-y & I am loving it. My dream is to get the fire cracklin’ & curl up on the couch with a cozy blanket, a good book & a yummy cup of coffee 🙂
  • Because I’m a pen person, staedtler pens are my new favorite. The triplus fineliner with 20 different colors are the best for journalling.

What are you into this month?

Celebrating Month #1

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The Kwok’s just finished month one of parenting two lovely kiddo’s :)!

Getting through the first month is a huge accomplishment and definitely merits celebration. I have loved seeing our family grow and our older son love on our younger. I have been challenged by this new lifestyle and the obstacles that only come from being outnumbered in parenting.

Updates from the Kwok household: here’s what’s new, noteworthy & keeping me alive 🙂

New nuggets I’ve learned this past week

  • I love living in a walkable area.
    Our saving grace this past month! We rarely feel like driving anywhere and luckily, we have the best food, dessert & boba places within a few short blocks from our apartment. Without the walkability factor, we’d likely be glued home a majority of the time. The fresh air and light exercise has been surprisingly life-giving for my soul.
  • Josh will eat anything with ketchup on it.
    My new trick to getting him to eat his dinner. It’s like magic.
  • It’s okay to do nothing.
    One of the toughest parts of having a kid (for me) is allowing yourself to do nothing. I did not realize how centered I am on productivity and ‘usefulness’ until being forced to chill. Nick has reminded me over and over to stop thinking so much and to just let myself relax. I’m still learning how to do this.
  • The second kid does not always mirror the first.
    Our two babies are as different as can be. Josh was a slow feeder, Kai eats fast. Josh was born at 5 lbs, Kai was born at 8 lbs. Josh had Jaundice, Kai did not. This past weekend we encountered a pink eye scare, which actually just ended up being a clogged tear duct (apparently extremely common in newborns), but we never experienced that with Josh, so I felt like a total rookie. New kid means new parenting obstacles (& joys) 🙂
  • I’m getting better at asking for help & receiving.
    Something I’ve been working on for a long time… For the first time, I am not only allowing others to help, but even asking for it. And I’ve been direct about what I need/want without feeling overly anxious. It’s been a huge stepping stone for me. Community really shines during the tough seasons 🙂

Challenges I’ve encountered

  • Joshua’s refusing nap time. 
    An unfortunate pattern that I hear can happen with the transition of becoming an older sibling.
  • The ups & downs of nursing.
    You’ve probably heard of people that don’t produce enough milk, but did you know that “oversupply” is also an issue? I didn’t. Until my baby started pooping green… and I realized I create too much milk, which means my baby is getting an excess of ‘foremilk’… that leads to gassiness, fussiness & discomfort while nursing. So it’s been a challenge trying to regulate my supply and get it down. I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s really no winning when it comes to nursing. Every mom I’ve talked to has had some dilemma with it.
  • I don’t have enough clothes for this.
    Speaking of ‘oversupply’, my baby spits up after every feed. Consequently, it is 1 PM and I have already changed my shirt 4 times (and the current one I’m wearing is half-drenched in breast milk)… the stuff no one warns you about.
  • Missing Disneyland.
    This ones sounds dumb… and maybe it is… but we really miss Disneyland. I took Josh weekly the last couple months prior to baby and I guess we just got used to it… now he is constantly asking to go. Nick continually plays ‘Fantasmic’ on our TV. And our household has become obnoxiously attached to our new favorite past-time.
  • Catering to my soul.
    I would love to hear how other moms continued their spiritual practices of praying, reading their bible, and connecting with God when they started parenting two… this has been unbelievably difficult and I’m not sure when it’ll get easier.

Enjoying/Anticipating

  • Gilmore Girls. 
    Been watching this again to amp myself up for the reboot coming November 25th! Cannot WAIT! Now to find friends to watch with 🙂
  • This is Us.
    Finally, a new show that literally has everything I want in a show. For starters, Nick loves it too, so we get to watch it together. Second, they address very real issues (adoption, racial injustice, marriage, parenting). Every episode unlocks more pieces to the story that sucks you in further… They have me hooked.
  • Friends  & Family
    Once again… unbelievably grateful for dear friends & family who have helped us, cooked for us, prayed for us, and blessed us with much-needed support (including a big sis who stayed with me & the boys while Nick was away). I am in awe of you all.
  • Thanksgiving & Christmas
    My favorites… right around the corner 🙂
  • The Sprinkles Baking Book
    I cannot WAIT to get this. Just came out yesterday, the owner of Sprinkles Cupcakes (Candace Nelson) just released her book full of cupcake & dessert recipes. EEE 🙂 (it’s the little things right now)

What helps you through month one of parenting?

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

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My favorite season has finally begun (not like you would know it by looking around L.A.)! There are way too many things I love about the Fall: pumpkin flavored everything, changing leaves, colder weather, the beginning of school, the return of my favorite fall T.V. shows and (best part of all) the HOLIDAYS. Halloween, Thanksgiving & Christmas back-to-back-to-back. I cannot begin to explain my love for this season and how desperately I wish L.A. looked a little bit more like Boston or New York this time of year (I always think of the gorgeous scenes in “You’ve Got Mail” & how picturesque it must be in NY right now).

Along with the Fall starting and with having two boys, I’ve been eager to start new traditions at this time of year, one of which being this: “Welcome Fall Night”. In my head, I want to grab my three boys, decorate our house all fall-y, bake some yummy pumpkin treats and watch a fall-y movie (i.e. Nightmare Before Christmas? It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown? Harry Potter??) I attempted this the other day and totally failed… The exhaustion of having a 2.5 week old took over and I couldn’t muster the energy to make it happen. The one thing I DID manage to do was make these delicious cookies. The recipe yielded, what felt like, a billion cookies and we’ve already eaten most of them… so beware.

I will leave you with this wonderful recipe. Do you have any recipes or fall traditions you do with your families? I’d love to hear!

 

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup pure pumpkin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375° F.
  • Combine flour, baking soda cinnamon and salt in medium bowl.
  • Beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl with electric mixer on medium until well blended.
  • Add pumpkin, egg and vanilla extract. Mix on low until combined. Stir in flour mixture. Batter will be soft. Fold in morsels. Drop by tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets about 2 inches apart.
  • Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are firm. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Store in airtight container.