Ever since Zoey turned 5 last month, I've been wanting to write an update about her so I can better remember what she is like at this age. First of all, I can't believe she is 5 years old now! Some days I feel like she is much older than that, and some days I feel like she was just a toddler. She was so excited for her birthday this year and had been anticipating "the day she becomes 5" for quite awhile (because some of her good friends from school were already 5 and she wanted to join them quickly :)
Our girl is confident, sensitive, considerate, and much likely an introvert. She gets shy sometimes, but she also likes connecting with other people and building relationships. According to her preschool teachers, Zoey is a leader and is the most easygoing kid who gets along with everyone. She is goofy, and has the best laugh in the world (sounds very much like her dad's.) She doesn't ask a lot of questions or too many "whys", but she's an observer and a thinker. She helps herself make sense of the world from observing and listening, and if she really can't figure out something on her own, she raises questions.
She is very independent and always has been. She is a private person. When she is upset, she likes to go into her room and cool down for a bit alone. She is very obedient, though with her getting older, she's got some occasional sass and attitude mixed in there. She likes to make us happy and her eyes get teary the instant she knows we are mad at her. She is a light sleeper, and with two younger siblings who still wake up crying at night sometimes, it doesn't help. I always feel so bad when I see those persistent dark circles under her eyes. She is creative and has great imagination. She loves drawing, coloring, crafting, and making things. She is very good with color mixing and matching. She loves learning and is interested in trying anything you introduce her to.
Sometimes, knowing that I have a 5 year old to raise and teach stresses me out. I mean, we have this precious gem in our hands and she is eager to learn and try anything. But what do we engage her with? With two other little ones at home, it hasn't been the easiest to focus on spending time with Zoey and doing things with her alone. But we do our best to be intentional about finding learning opportunities in our daily lives, and we give her lots of space and freedom to express her creativity and imagination. Despite what our culture here seems to promote, I am not in a rush to build her academic skills. It's not that I don't value or care about it (in fact it's the opposite) but to me, she has many many years ahead when she has to focus on her academics. And here, right now, is her chance to be a kid. Stress-free, worry-free.
Last week, I gave Zoey a couple hardcover blank notebooks, and I told her that if she wanted to, she could draw and write a book too. Her eye lit up at the idea and got started right away. Then she went and got her recent favorite book, How to Hide a Lion, and started imitating the pages she liked. This smart girl, I didn't even think about that! But I agree this is a great way to learn :) I was beyond amazed and so impressed with her work (talk about a biased mama). She already draws better than I do!
While I was still pregnant with Izzy early last year, I was searching high and low for a perfect baby bag. I've gone through a couple with Zoey and Nathan, from moderately priced ones such as Skip Hop to more pricey Petunia Pickle Bottoms. I never found a perfect bag that is versatile enough for both my baby and non-baby needs, and I eventually gave up on diaper bags after Z and N were a bit older and switched back to my normal purses that are on the bigger side.
Before we decided to add another baby to our family, I had been passing on and donating some baby items to people who needed them more, and I gifted and resold the few diaper bags I owned. Shortly after, we found out Izzy was on the way, so naturally I had to make a new list of baby essentials that we wanted to update and re-purchase (lucky for me, sucks for gary's poor ol' wallet ;) I really wanted to find a new bag that is big enough for my daily needs with 3 kids 5 and under, but also one that can be used for years down the road when my babies aren't babies anymore.
I considered many designs and different brands, and read up on lots of user reviews. It was a rather disappointing search at first because a perfect match between price + design just doesn't come easy. Eventually I landed on this company called Moop (I learned about them from A Cup of Jo.) It is a small company that designs and hand manufactures canvas bags in their studio in Pittsburgh, PA. I really like the idea of buying handmade and I usually consider buying from independently owned shops first (within an affordable range, of course.) After communicating with Wendy (the owner) about what I'm looking for in a bag, I decided to invest in The Porter. I picked the one made with gray waxed canvas and lined in teal cordura. Both are highly durable and water resistant fabrics, which is an important quality I was looking for.
I really like the simple, clean design. Nothing too flashy and is perfectly gender neutral. It is very generously sized, and I was surprised to find out how lightweight it is and just how much it can hold. There was awhile when I was carrying so. much. stuff., with Izzy having blowouts at least once a day and Naynay getting used to being diaper-less. It really seems like I can keep throwing things in this bag and it'd never be too full. The inside pockets are big enough as well, perfect for my wallet, phone, keys (it also has a key strap inside the bag,) toys, snacks, hand sanitizer, receipts, and very often, used kleenex :)
Somehow this big bag looks pretty proportionate on my 5'6" frame. The cross body strap is very comfortable too even though I don't usually carry it that way (Gary likes to wear it cross body though, so that's important!)
While I was playing with Izzy on the living room floor the other day, I got to take pictures of some essentials I carry daily in my Porter. One way I organize everything in a big bag is by using pouches and makeup bags of various sizes, handy for baby teethers, pens, crayons, toy cars, coupons, zoey's disposable camera, bandaids, and hair ties.
One of my favorite things in my diaper bag is the striped bag on the top left. It is a Baggu 3D zip bag that I use for Izzy's extra outfit, diapers, wipes, and changing pad. It is lightweight and doesn't take up too much space in my bag (in comparison to a skip hop diaper changer I have). The bottom left is a nursing poncho by BusySpinningThread that also doubles up as a car seat blanket. I wouldn't say it's a necessity for every mama but it's definitely made my nurse-on-the-go life much much easier and comfortable.
And there! My first ever product review post. I always look for online reviews before I purchase something and very often than not I wish I could find more information. So I thought it's about time that I contribute and hopefully it will be helpful for someone out there :)
I was cleaning out and organizing pictures in my iPhoto and noticed there are so many good ones of Gary and Izzy! Looking at them may or may not have made me tear up a little because it made me really happy. I have always been very close to my own dad, and our relationship is one that I cherish deeply. So seeing Gary so fully invested in his relationship with our girls while being so good at it brings a lot of emotions to my heart. He loves on her in simple ways she can feel and understand. He's patient, loving, playful, and he talks to her and makes her laugh. My very favorite is the huge smile on her small chubby face whenever she makes eye contact with Gary. And even though Izzy is still more attached to me, she loves her papa dearly (we know this because he is her top pick whenever mama is not around :)
Here are some pictures of Gary and Izzy that I absolutely love and don't want to ever forget about...
It is true when they tell you marriage is hard work. And in my opinion, it's especially so when the two of you have kids together. Our little ones bring us so much joy and truly mean the world to us, but I'd be lying if I told you they didn't make things harder for us in the dating department.
Gary and I have been extremely blessed as his mom and my aunt (plus the chungs before they had kids, and my parents when they're in town) always offer to watch the kids for us so we can spend alone time together. In the very beginning, I often hesitated to take up on their offers because I loved doing things together as a family (which I still do, of course) But with Gary being slightly less busy at his current job, meaning he gets to come home during normal hours and be around the kids more during the week, we try to seize every childcare offer that comes our way. Because in the midst of our busy lives, it really is easy to lose focus and attention on your spouse if you don't remember to be intentional about it. Of course, going on dates aren't the only way to spend quality time together. Many nights we work on our laptops across from each other at the dining table, which can somewhat feel like a date if your heart is right, haha. Sometimes we sneak into bed at night to chat and talk about our day after the littles are in bed, or we catch up on our favorite TV shows while munching on chips together. We used to work out together at night, but it definitely is just a thing of the past now ;)
This year, for Valentine's Day, we had our nanny come over for the morning while Gary and I went out for brunch in downtown. This date felt extra special because we didn't have Izzy with us! (she usually tags along on our dates because she's still little and hates bottles.) The weather was nice so afterwards we just took our time wandering around downtown.
It was our first time at Cafe Campagne. I love the cozy interior but I'm sad to report that I'm really not into french food. That pain au chocolat though, mmMMm. And right after we sat down I realized I never put the memory card back in our camera after I used it so all these pictures are from our iphone 5s.
We don't usually do gifts for Valentine's Day, but I decided to surprise Gary with these matching striped shirts last minute. These shirts are from Everlane, an online clothing brand that makes minimalist basics. They tell you where the items you're buying come from (like when we want to know where our food comes from) and they do transparent pricing by listing the true cost of each item on their website. They've been my favorite place to shop for the past two years, and I just love the clean cut and design in their stuff. Anyway, can you believe this is Gary's first striped shirt ever?? I think he looks good in it! One of the ways I know he really loves me is that even though he rolls his eyes at my "matchy matchy" idea, he'll still wear it out with me in public :) :) I'm a lucky wife.