Contrary to my immediate family and my dear husband, I'm not someone who enjoys reading that much. I remember my mom encouraging me a lot when I was little, that I should try to read more and it'd be a great hobby to have for the rest of my life. But it never actually came natural to me. Having had to read so much for school (and I was in school for a long time), I avoided reading whenever I had free time. Looking back now, I wish I listened to my mama more and put in more effort, but I guess it's never too late to start anew, yea?? :)
One thing I've learned about myself after becoming a mama is that I really enjoy reading to the kids. It is hands down one of my favorite things to do with them. When we dive into a story together, we don't allow ourselves to get distracted, which really is a treat in our busy days filled with other responsibilities. I love listening to what they think about each story and the pictures, especially the questions they come up with. I learn along with them, too (I never thought I could know so much about sharks, ha!) I've had a few friends asking for our recommendations for books. I think a lot of it depends on your child's interests and what you as parents are looking for, but I started to compile a list of favorites that are in regular rotations in our house. It turned out to be a pretty long list, and here is the first 8 :)
1. Library Lion, by Michelle Knudsen. Z and N both love this book. It talks about a kind lion who loves storytime and helping out at the library. The lion was told that he's welcome there as long as he follows the rules, such as no running and be quiet. Then one day he had to roar in the quiet library due to an absolute emergency (someone he cares about got hurt), afterwards he was so guilty and ashamed, he didn't go back to the library for days. Everyone missed the lion and at the end he learned that it is okay to break the rules depending on the circumstances. The kids and I really love this story, and I love that the lesson behind the story is so applicable now and most likely will be so a few years down the road.
2. Good night, Good night Construction Site, by Sherri Dusky Rinker. We got this book for dee for his 3rd birthday. We read it once then and tucked it away. A couple weeks ago he rediscovered it on the bookshelf, and has been loving it since. He loves all the different trucks in the book, and the fact that they get tired and sleep at night too. The words are simple, and the pictures and the details in them are really cute. Our favorite is the crane truck holding a teddy bear in his sleep :)
3. Tea Time with Sophia Grace and Rosie, by Sophia Grace Brownlee. When Zoey was younger, I was pretty intentional about steering her away from things that are too girly or princessey. But it turned out that she loves girly stuff (to be fair, though, she loves blue and green and building things as well, so I'd say she's got a good balance going.) We first read this book at pottery barn kids and I couldn't stop thinking about it afterwards. It's got pink, sparkles, fairy godmothers, pretty desserts, and tutus in it, but the storyline between two cousins who love each other is sweeter than any of those things.
4. Dear Zoo, by Rod Campbell. This cute little boardbook is more suitable for younger kids. You get to lift a flap on each page to find out what animal is behind it. The simple storyline and idea is very cute! Even now, Naynay reads it out loud to himself sometimes.
5. Just Being Audrey, by Margaret Cardillo. I found this book at the sale section at the University Bookstore and couldn't resist bringing it home. I loved telling Z and N that Audrey Hepburn was real, and they both like hearing about her story. I got to explain what UNICEF was to them because of it, too ;-)
6. My Octopus Arms, by Keith Baker. What can an octopus do with his arms? Each page talks about all sorts of different things an octopus can do with his 8 arms, and at the very end, the octopus uses his arms to hug a little octopus who was sad (and it says "all arms can give a hug!") I just can't resist sweet, loving storyline like this.
7. Five Little Monkeys Storybook Treasury, by Eileen Christelow. We are very familiar with the five little monkeys jumping on the bed story. One time at the library, Zoey found a book with the same five little monkeys baking birthday cake, which was new to us and she thought it was hilarious and wanted to read it over and over again. For Christmas last year, I found this storybook treasury for her. It's got 5 different stories in it, which makes it a very good deal to me, ha! The language is very simple and has lots of rhymes and good rhythm. Z can read pretty much every story on her own, and I often find her reading this book to Naynay.
8. The Day the Crayons Quit, by Drew Daywalt. I decided to get this book for Zoey for her birthday because there was a time where I'd catch her talking to her crayons like they were her playmates :) Zoey is definitely more into this story than Naynay, though he enjoys it too. I do think older kids can appreciate the story more though. It's about a little boy named Duncan, and one day when he was about to color, he found a stack of letters written to him by his crayons. Each crayon had different problems and complaints about how Duncan colored with them, which is a pretty creative idea. My favorite is when Zoey told me that her favorite was the green crayon. I asked her why and she said "green crayon is the only one who doesn't whine in this book. that's why i like him :)"
And that's all for now! Thanks for reading through this. If you have any favorites and don't mind sharing, I'd love to hear about them!
Some of you probably know already, but it's been a sick week for us over here. Last week, I wasn't feeling too well for a few days and Nathan woke up from a mysterious fever and chills one night. Then it sort of went away...until Tuesday morning when both Z and N woke up feeling extra sick. We went to see a doctor, skipped preschool for the week and cancelled all of our social events with family and friends. I'm not going to lie, it's been a hard couple of days for all of us. There have been so many moments where I thought I was going to lose it. Being stuck at home and not feeling well means we don't sleep well, and we annoy and frustrate one another more than usual. Judging from the high frequency of my frustrated texts to Gary, my parenting lesson for the week can be summed up nicely in three words: patience, acceptance, and low expectations ;)
With that being said, I am extra thankful for our nanny this week. She helps out so much by not only taking good care of the kids but also our home while I'm gone. She tries so hard to lighten up our burden, and her effort is always much appreciated, but especially so on hard days like these. She told me today that she felt like crying when she thought about not seeing the kids regularly later this year. She truly has been a huge blessing to our family and I'm going to be so sad to see her go after spring quarter.
Yesterday morning I decided to take the kids out for some fresh air before their medicine wore off (we alternate between tylenol and motrin for them, which has been somewhat helpful for fevers and general fussiness.) We came to The Wandering Goose in Capitol Hill and spent some quiet time reading and drawing together. It was a short visit as Nay's temperature went up again soon after we sat down, but it was, however, a very sweet one still.
Before I forget, I wanted to say thank you to all the lovely people who have commented or given me feedback on this blog - you all are too sweet and I absolutely love hearing from you (and I miss some of you terribly). Also, a big hug and thank you to everyone who has been thinking about and praying for us this week. Zoey has been getting better each day, but poor Nay still has a mild fever and is very snotty and coughing a lot. Izzy got her 6-month shots plus a flu shot this morning and she is not feeling well. She's been crying and crying pretty much all night, even when we're holding her. It just breaks my heart seeing her so uncomfortable :( Sigh, I'm so very thankful it's almost the weekend though! Hope you all are staying healthy, wherever you are!
I am so relieved it's finally Friday. It's been a rough week in terms of time management and simply finding time to do anything. Izzy's bedtime has gone back to 11 p.m. (or later sometimes), which means I don't get to sit down, take a breather, and prepare for next day's lessons until it's way past my desired bedtime. The difficult thing is she gets so tired already starting at 8:30 p.m., but I can try to put her down multiple times and still end up coming out of the room with a fussy yet restless baby in my arms.
As we entered into February and our lives being extra hectic, I started to take a second look on my new years resolutions. I had all these great plans on my list - mostly small, daily actions that are supposed to take just a few minutes of my day. Perhaps I've been doing it all wrong, but as intentional as I'm trying to be, it's proven to be very difficult and I have already failed on reading my Bible and devotions every single day. And then I remembered some stuff I read awhile back about picking a word or two to focus on and live out in this new year. And it occurred to me that I really have been doing it all wrong. What I was doing the whole month of January was simply busying myself even more with more daily tasks to be tackled. I was in a rush to accomplish all the good things at once and therefore lost sight of what's truly important. After five days of thinking it over during my commute to and from work, I picked my first word for the year which goes to simplify : to make something less complicated, simpler, or easier. In my head right now that means having a simpler closet with things I actually reach for in the mornings, a non-overstocked fridge with food that is fresh, clean and whole. It also means backing out of the weekly women's study group that I recently joined. I know, I was really bummed (and still am). While I know I'll be beating myself up mentally for not making enough effort to branch out and form deeper relationships with people, I also feel like this is the right thing to do, at least for now. In order to focus more on my home life (meaning, quality time with Gary, myself, and everything else with the littles) as well as family and work life, I need to simplify my social calendar in some small ways and not overcommit my time. My second word for the year is to give, and right now that means focusing on more consistent donations to charities and opening up our home more for meals with people we love and don't get to see often.
This week, the littles and I came to Belltown to visit Street Bean Espresso, a non-profit coffee shop that provides employment opportunities for street-involved young people. It was established by New Horizons, an organization that helps and guides young people to exit street life. Having been thinking more about "giving", I was very inspired by this place and plan to contribute in the small ways that I can. I'm excited to talk about it more with Zoey, too.
Before I had Zoey, grocery shopping was always a fun and somewhat therapeutic activity. I loved taking my time and browsing through every aisle, sometimes I'd look up recipes standing in the middle of the store, adding things to my grocery list. After three little ones, this simple luxury is definitely behind me now. Don't get me wrong, the littles are usually very well-behaved on our grocery shopping missions, but it just gets a bit stressful and chaotic on my end. And ever since I started working part-time on weekday afternoons, grocery shopping has become even more of a stressor and a chore. Gary is very sweet, and he sometimes goes out to the store for me at night after the kids are in bed. Or he lets me take a break to myself sometimes, meaning buying groceries alone :)
Awhile back, Gary's mom started grocery deliveries from a local farm and has really liked it. We tried it with Full Circle Farm before, but I didn't like their selections and my options as much. We love Costco but the selections of organic vegetables there are sadly limited (and portions are too big to finish before they go bad.) So, in this busy season of life, we've decided to try produce delivery again but with New Roots Organics this time around. We do the biweekly deliveries, and so far everything has been wonderful! They send you an email a few days before your scheduled delivery, telling you the exact items and amount you'll be getting. You have the options to substitute anything you don't want with other groceries, which is a huge plus. You can also skip or add deliveries whenever you need to, or even schedule your vacation days beforehand too.
These are what's in our box this week:
We have the standard-sized bin, which costs $39.99. The quality of their produce has always been very good, with the one-time exception that the oranges we got were rotten after only a few days. However, their customer service made up for it and they delivered new ones to our door as soon as they received my email. So far, this amount and variety of food every other week has been working out quite well for us, since we like eating out too and mom plus my aunt both bring us food sometimes (I know, lucky us! :) I've been paying more attention to the times I go to a grocery store, and I'd say it's about 1-2 times in between the deliveries, and often times it's for things like eggs, cheese, or carbs.
I found these Simple Ecology Organic Cotton Mesh Produce Bags on Amazon and finally bit the bullet and bought them last week. The quality and sizes are perfect, and I love that you can throw them in the wash too. I was tired of using plastic bags and have read that these keep your produce fresh for a longer time. I'll have to test it out and give an update on that later :)