Monday, July 6, 2015

My Summer reading list

Now that school is over for the Summer, and has been filled with endless days by the pool, and I have spent many days and nights being buried in my books. There is nothing that quite excites me like getting lost in a good book, which is very much a secret world for me.

As a mother, reading is the ultimate luxury where I feel like I can just have a moment to catch my breath and devour the words on the page. And yes, I still read old-school style, with manually turning the pages like an old fart! I we really need more screen time? No thanks!

There is a bookstore near my workplace, which offers great deals so I don't feel bad to browse and then consequently spend like $200. When I get to that point that I am carrying so many books that I am staggering to the check-out counter, I know it's time to go. Somehow, my preferred customer 20% off card doesn't really make a difference....but rather books than shoes, right?! I usually give my mum the books first, as an offering of "you birthed me so you can have first dibs", but really she could actually qualify for the Guinness World Records because she reads one book per night. Then, I read the book and sometimes it takes me 1-2 weeks or less, depending on how much I love it. Then, I give it to my auntie to read, but only if it is a "happy" novel because she can't handle even a mosquito being killed off in the story. And then, I have a special book pile in my room for my next shipment to my MIL, who loves to read. And then, the books get donated to the public library in Jamaica.

Before you judge me any further, I do like to get books from the library as well. The Vancouver Public Library has this free service where you can request books and the library will ship it to your closest branch. And then you can check out the books for 2-6 weeks. But sometimes it gets months to get the latest best sellers, because all the other reading minions have requested it already. And plus, if I got ALL my books from the library, then my mum/auntie/MIL wouldn't get a chance to read it. So really, I am doing to for a greater cause....ha ha!

This year, I set a goal on my GoodReads that I would read 20 books, of which I have read 13 already so far. You should really see my "want to read" list - it is practically a hoarder's paradise with 500+ books on my bucket list!

This Summer, I'd like to read these 6 books:

- The Good Girl, by Mary Kubica (thriller)
#GIRLBOSS, by Sophia Amaruso (because I'm a boss too)
Hausfrau: A Novel, by Jill Alexander Essbaum (a cheating bored housewife, how juicy!)
The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah (a war novel)
Yes Please, by Amy Poehler (love her!)


Dear readers, what are you reading for the Summer?

Friday, July 3, 2015

6 Things I Learned from Preschool

(Maya's first official school photo!)

Last week, school wrapped up for the Summer holidays as the majority of students in Canada have off for the months of July and August. As the school year officially comes to a close, I am feeling very reflective about it since it was Maya's first season in preschool. 

Even though she started halfway through the year, in the past 4 months, attending school has really changed her personality positively. She is more focused, socialized, less afraid of strangers, and she loves school so much that she's always the last one to leave the classroom! Many parents opt to keep their children at home until they are nearly four or five, but since Maya was potty-trained already I decided to start her at the youngest possible age. Honestly, I have my limits as a parent and I really didn't know how or what to teach her.

I knew that she would learn so many new things at school, but I didn't realize that I would learn new things too! Observing the way the teachers were with her really taught me a few things....

1) If a child figures out something for themselves, they will remember it.
The first thing I learned from Maya's preschool is the simple fact that you need stop doing things for them. That it's okay (and necessary) to let them struggle a bit. On everything from working on a puzzle, tying their shoes, or putting a plate in the sink - they need to do it by themselves - to learn. Early on, the teacher told us that when children learn how problem-solve by themselves, they will remember. But if you swoop in and do it for them, they will forget. Husband-ji has a much harder time with this, as he likes to baby Maya!

2) The importance of "work".
Letting your child work on a project, or better yet giving them a task to do, makes them feel purposeful and also helps improve their focus. Everything from sweeping, to washing dishes, or watering the plants, are things that make children happy to help. It gives them a sense of responsibility and pride. By doing these tasks at school, Maya has been eager to help me at home with all of my chores - so much that she ignores her toys and instead finds it more interesting to "help me" with my daily chores!

(A chore we do - giving her toys "a bath"!)

3) Unsupervised play time.
The biggest thing that the school has taught me is the importance of unsupervised play time. The teachers taught me to stop hovering. Helicopter parenting is a disease in our internet generation, where many parents feel like the boogeyman is out to get their child, which in turn makes parents hover and micromanage their children and their play time. The reality is that kids learn more, and they have more fun when parents aren't hovering over them and managing their every move. The school has taught me the importance of setting limits and then giving my daughter complete freedom within those limits - ie. it's totally okay to sit down on the playground bench instead of standing right next to my daughter!

4) Respectful listening.
So many times parents are in a rush that we talk over our children and don't listen to them. As parents, we think we know our children and we think we are somehow magical mind readers. The biggest thing I have learned at school is from the way the teachers talk and listen to the children. The teacher will look Maya in the eye and ask her a question and wait for her to respond - she will not interrupt her. It gives the children a sense of mutual respect and a chance to use their voice and speak up. It creates trust.

5) Learning from other children.
Maya is in a mixed age class with children ranging from age 2.5 - 6 years old. A lot of the older children mentor her and have taught her so many things. Before school, she was scared of older children. Now she looks up to them and wants to do everything that they are doing!

6) Kids thrive on structure.
When we were phasing Maya into school, they wanted her to come every day so that she could get used to her new schedule. It was easier for her to get into her routine when her day was more structured, and she looked forward to it so much that she was quite disappointed that she didn't have school on the weekends! Of course, we still do some impromptu fun activities, but overall the day in more structured to her natural rhythms.

So many of these things can also apply to adults as well - the concepts of having purposeful work, unsupervised problem solving, learning from older "big kids", and the importance of respectful listening.

I think I may have learned more than my daughter, and she's the one in school! Ha ha!


Dear readers, if you have children, what are the important lessons that you learned from their schools?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Our Fathers Day 2015

It's a bit late to be posting this, but I wanted to share with my readers about our special Father's Day this year. The past few weeks have been such a flurry of fun events, joy, and Summer laziness!

Father's Day is really special to us because I always remember husband-ji's first Father's Day, shortly after we had Maya. June is a month filled with joy for us - starting out with Maya's birthday, our wedding anniversary, and Father's Day.

This Father's Day, I wanted to get him something really special and I decided to put my creative design skills to work! I made husband-ji a t-shirt of favorite father/daughter moments of him and Maya. And the cherry on the top? On the back, it said "Best. Dad. Ever."

It was a big surprise for him and he loved it so much that he proudly wore it out that day. We spent the afternoon at our weekly farmer's market and everyone kept stopping to comment on his "cool" shirt. And as soon as they saw the back, people said, "AWWWWW!"

Maya especially loved the shirt and kept pointing to her pictures on it!

A few days earlier, we spent our 4th wedding anniversary at the beach - at sunset - our Summertime hangout!


Dear readers, how did you spend Father's Day this year?

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Intercultural Relationship Book Giveaway

Today I am announcing a special book giveaway contest from my friend Tracy who has written the book "The Good Shufu". She is a fellow pioneer of intercultural marriage (being married to a Japanese man) and her book is releasing today with rave reviews. I personally can't wait to read it!

Click HERE to enter!
The giveaway ends on July 7th, so make sure to enter it soon!

Here is some info about the books:

The Good Shufu is a true story of multicultural love, marriage, and mixups. When Tracy Slater, a highly independent American academic, falls head-over-heels in love with the least likely person in the world--a traditional Japanese salaryman who barely speaks English--she must choose between the existence she'd meticulously planned in the US and life as an illiterate housewife in Osaka. Rather than an ordinary travel memoir, this is a book about building a whole life in a language you don’t speak and a land you can barely navigate, and yet somehow finding a truer sense of home and meaning than ever before. A Summer ’15 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection, The Good Shufu is a celebration of the life least expected: messy, overwhelming, and deeply enriching in its complications.

In 2010, bookish 22-year-old Shannon follows her Eurasian boyfriend to Hong Kong, eager to forge a new love story in his hometown. She thinks their long distance romance is over, but a month later his company sends him to London. Shannon embarks on a wide-eyed newcomer's journey through Hong Kong—alone. She teaches in a local school as the only foreigner, explores Asia with other young expats, and discovers a family history of her own in Hong Kong. The city enchants her, forcing her to question her plans. Soon, she must make a choice between her new life and the love that first brought her to Asia.
Susan Blumberg-Kason, author of Good Chinese Wife, has called Year of Fire Dragons "a riveting coming of age story" and "a testament to the distance people will travel for love."

At 30, Californian Leza Lowitz is single and traveling the world, which suits her just fine. Coming of age in Berkeley during the feminist revolution of the 1970s, she learned that marriage and family could wait. Or could they? When Leza moves to Japan and falls in love with a Japanese man, her heart opens in ways she never thought possible. But she’s still an outsider, and home is far away. Rather than struggle to fit in, she opens a yoga studio and makes a home for others. Then, at 44, Leza and her Japanese husband seek to adopt—in a country where bloodlines are paramount and family ties are almost feudal in their cultural importance. She travels to India to work on herself and back to California to deal with her past. Something is still not complete until she learns that when you give a little love to a child, you get the whole world in return. The author’s deep connection to yoga shows her that infertile does not mean inconceivable. By adapting and adopting, she transcends her struggles and embraces the joys of motherhood.

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