Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Taking downtime seriously

I can't remember exactly when we started doing this but our family takes downtime pretty seriously. 

It has been our way for all of us to take a break from... well... all of us when we have a full day together. Usually, after lunch or after coming home from a day of outing, I call a household wide downtime. First Satchi was weary of the idea but after incorporating it almost every day throughout the very busy summer schedule, it has really become a part of our rhythm. 

It happens sometime between 1-4pm depending on the day's schedule. Usually, Satchi goes to kid's room and listens to her favorite audio stories for about 30 minutes on her bunk bed then she sets a timer for another 30 minutes to either just continue resting on her bunk bed (but no audio story) or do an activity that fills her soul. Sometimes she writes a letter at her desk, reads her Tintin books or chooses to take her shower. I ask her whatever she chooses to do... do something that is for her heart and make sure that it is an activity that she can do on her own. The mood was harder to navigate afterward when she was just listening to the audio story during her downtime. When the stories ended after 30 minutes, she would act more clingy and whiny... (kind of the opposite of what I had hoped for) So we established a clear rule that she needs to do something that is away from her audio story with her choice. 

Coco sometimes listens to the audio story with her sister. But I am noticing more and more that she enjoys tinkering with her drawings or making a collage with whatever I curate on my analog table. She loves the process so much that I have given up to be protective of my special goodies... and I just let her use it without being too precious. She loves all the little analogue trinkets I have collected over time. Stamps, stickers, special papers... all of it. As long as she doesn't need a major hands-on support from me during the time, I try to be open to what she chooses to do.

What do I do during MY downtime while girls do their own things? Sometimes I literally shut down. Since I get up early to work when the house is quiet, I can easily use my power nap around 2pm... Even though I might not feel tired, I try to lay down and close my eyes and feel surprised by how much I need the 10 minutes of centering. Sometimes I read books and that has been inspiring and productive. Whatever I do, I try to give myself some space from everyone. 

Afterward, we all come out of our own downtime from different corners of our house... excited and ready for the 2nd part of the afternoon. 

Do you take regular downtime? 

Mail Box LOVE

Do you have families and friends near and far?

Our families are kind of all over the place. Frido's parents live in Germany. My parents go back and forth between Orange County (south of LA) and Japan... and we have my sister in San Francisco and auntie Susan in Michigan. Just to name a few. Then there are friends whom Satchi and Coco LOVE sending their love letters to.

We are so lucky to receive so many beautiful packages from Omi in Germany. She has great eyes for white dresses and little things that brighten Satchi and Coco's day. I have been encouraging them to respond by writing but somehow the distance between LA and Germany was a bit of disconnect.

So last month, we did an experiment of having a "mail box" dedicated to Omi and Opi in our dining room. Having the visual reminder that we could connect to Omi and Opi in a tangible way felt more concrete to Satchi and Coco. It was a shipping box that was big enough to put drawings and 3-dimensional objects yet small enough to sit in the corner of our dining room without feeling overwhelming. It was a sweet process to let inside of the box come together organically. Writing letters or making a special package to our friends and families are sure "feel-good" activities for our family. We never come out feeling cranky after finishing making a letter, right?

It took about a month but slowly box filled up and I shipped it off last week.

Afterward, I asked them whose mailbox we want to open next and there was a list... so I am sure there will be more "mailbox" coming out of our dining room!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Partner Shop on Traveler's Company website!

We are thrilled to have our story listed on Traveler's Company Partner Shops page where they have interviewed Traveler's Company partner shops all around the world for their recommended local spots! We shared few of our favorites from our home in Los Angeles as well as how we got started with the Traveler's Notebook adventure.

Scroll down the page. There is a picture of the BK team pic which I so adore!

And here is the main Partner Shop Page where you can see interviews with different TN retailers around the world. I would definitely like to check out some of the recommended spots when we travel those parts of the world.

Monday, July 24, 2017

BK on the Road / Trailer Camping at San Clemente State Park

Last month we tried a new way of traveling - staying in a vintage trailer at a beach campsite in San Clemente! There is something about the idea of a small space living in a tiny trailer.

It was empowering to know that we could be content with the trailer space for a few days. We could go "inside" to sleep after we finished with our campfire. It was a relief to load only the essentials and food to grill in our family car to get there especially because we traveled in the mid-week right after our work. No tent, sleeping bags, towels, big ice chest...

You can be visiting Los Angeles from another country. Rent a car at the airport, pick up some food to grill and drive to this campsite trailer. You will have everything you need!

We still experienced a lot of "camping" vibe during the 2 nights we stayed. 4 trailers that were available for rent were located in the middle of the San Clemente State Park Campsite and we used all the campground amenities like showers and restrooms as well as the amazing beach access within the campsite.

To me... the best gift each travel brings has been about the togetherness. We as a family of 4 are together undivided in one space. We explored the inside and outside of the trailer. We watched the thick marine layer cloud move towards us from the sea. We played and played more at the beach. Frido taught Satchi how to build the campfire then we totally wrapped ourselves in a campfire smoke while watching the stars appear and disappear between the marine layer. Dynamic of 4 people being together requires patience even though we are a family. So much of that is about character building for all of us and I know that we all grew through it.

Here are some pics to sum up our weekend!
Summer continues:)

Monday, June 26, 2017

"If you love life..."

Since I stopped working at night, I was able to reclaim more time for myself. Even the phrase "time for myself" sounds so self-indulgent and almost selfish because it feels like I should always be busy with things to do for family, work and for others. But I am learning to feel comfortable to carve out some time that is left floating. 

With little time here and there, I started to read more. One book that left a lot of thoughts to ponder was "When Breath Becomes Air" by Paul Kalanithi. Our good friend recommended us and I am so glad that she did. I finished devouring the book in 2 days... and now in return..., I am recommending the whole world that it is an amazing book to read. So powerful and human and I kept telling Frido that the author Paul writes so beautifully... about living, dying and meaning of his life which was ending for him as he wrote this book. If you have not read it yet, I would love you to pick it up and open the page. Preferably a physical hardcover copy because the way the book is put together feels just so... right. 

After finishing this book, I stared at a white wall for a long time and was left with a question "where do I go next?" I ended up picking another book "The 5 Choices: The Path to Extraordinary Productivity" by also with a bit of serendipity. This book had a totally different tone to the reading experience... but somehow the takeaway from the book fit as a puzzle piece nicely. It gave me different ways of thinking about how our cup of time can be filled with deliberate choices instead of letting the days and years slip by us. 

Frido and I designed BK Dashboard a while ago. I thought it would be a good functional addition to how we use our Traveler's Notebook. Now this Dashboard has a whole new meaning to me. It's a place inside of my Traveler's Notebook where I keep myself accountable for actions that are meaningful for my life and for Baum-kuchen... and I hope the same for you.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Happy birthday, Satchi! You are 7 now;)

Satchi turned 7 last weekend. Seven. SEVEN!!!
Today she feels so tall in our eyes that we can't believe that she was the tiny little 6lb baby when she was born.

I adore her genuine kindness that comes from her heart, the endless energy she has for play, and love for her family and friends. She is a natural athlete and is always ready to play chase or tag... and can spend hours in the water swimming. So compassionate for all animals around her and would take any bugs she finds in the garden as her pets.

We welcomed her birthday in Palm Springs with pink/purple balloons and cannonball jump into the pool. She is definitely the one who has awoken me and Frido as parents seven years ago and gave us an incredible lifelong opportunity to see the world differently. I still write almost every night to her and Coco and I often find myself writing "thank you" to her. Thankful for so many things...

I can't wait to spend another year around the sun... and more and continue to get to know her.

Monday, June 12, 2017

gift of message

We have been thinking and talking a lot about simplifying, decluttering and letting things go here. Few of my friends are celebrating their birthdays this month and I am really thinking of the "letter" as gifts alternative to "things".

Eunice shared this fun and cute idea of using the TN mini as a special occasion card to give as a gift. I love that you can use the "mini" TN packaging which comes in 10th Anniversary Tin container as a gift wrap along with the tiny TN notebook. And the person who receives the gift can add the TN Mini to their bag as a charm so they can carry the message to everywhere they go.

It's such a memorable way to mark the occasion, isn't it?

It feels to me that letting things go and making spaces in life can allow us to be more creative with how we do things in everyday... and we get to touch our family and friends' life in a new way.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Happy Birthday, Coco. You are now 4!!!

Our little Coco turned 4 years old on Saturday.
This past year we have watched Coco grow so so much. She is very different from her sister and it amazes me... (even though it makes total sense in my head that she is, of course, different from Satchi) I love that Coco's strength and personality are unique to who she is and she is such a burst of growing force.

This year, Frido and I decided "not" to give any physical birthday gifts to Satchi and Coco... instead asked each of them what they would like to do as a family. Coco picked El Capitan Canyon weekend nature trip for her birthday. Because of the season, we were asked to book 3 nights (instead of our usual 2 nights). Though the extra night added to the overall cost of the stay, it was incredible to have the stretch of 3 nights and 4 days to just "be" in the canyon. Kids LOVED their cabin loft to sleep in which felt like an attic space and so dreamy! We truly appreciated having warm beds to sleep at night and quick showers we were able to take after spending all day outside! We did most of the cooking around the campfire instead of eating at their Canyon market and spent tons of time breathing in some fresh air for our soul and heart. Our outdoor activities included swimming at the pool, hiking to see goats and llama at a nearby ranch, getting much-needed ocean air at El Capitan State Beach... and just sitting down at a campsite to marvel oak trees cascade through the creek.

Happy Birthday, Coco!!!!
We love you to pieces (even in the midst of the epic tantrum) and are so thankful how you complete the family.


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