小紅嘴鳥的奇幻飛行 Book Review

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Title: 小紅嘴鳥的奇幻飛行 (xiao3 hong2 zui3 niao3 de5 qi2 huan4 fei hang2)/The Red Beak Bird’s Imaginary Flight

ISBN: 9789869292061

Author/Illustrator: Agathe Demois/Vincent Godeau

Publisher: 親子天下

Level: Beginning Reader, Zhuyin, Fiction, Picture book

Summary: Translated from the French original.

Every year, all the birds in the world gather at a special tree to meet. This story follows a bird with a red beak as it flies half way around the world to get to the meeting place. Each page talks about what the bird sees on the way there.

Sample Pages: 

If you notice where the magnifying glass is, the man is naked underneath his clothes and the picture reveals his penis.

This picture reveals the butt of the monkey.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

5 Minute Book Review: Such a fantastic and super cool book. Glow Worm (4) loved it immediately and would look at it daily when we bought it last year in Taiwan. My older two kids, ~8 and ~6, also find the book fascinating and love looking at the incredibly detailed illustrations.

The reason it’s so cool is because it comes with a red “magnifying” glass. It doesn’t really magnify anything, but it does color everything red. Because all the illustrations are in red or blue ink, when you put the magnifying glass over the drawings, since the magnifying glass is red, the red illustrations disappear, revealing the blue ones.

In fact, this feature of the book is so fun and exciting that I didn’t even read the book to the kids until recently. They never wanted to hear the story – just wanted to look at the illustrations and see what the magnifying glass uncovered.

Be forewarned, there are two semi-questionable pictures in the book. One is that there is an illustration of a penis (I included it in the sample pages) and the other is an illustration of a monkey’s butt. I don’t particularly care about either of them, but my kids are particularly fascinated by them.

Also, it’s really hard for me to read the blue print. You could say, read them through the red magnifying glass. And then I would laugh at you because there is no way I’d be able to pry it out of Glow Worm’s hands.

Highly recommend.

Here’s is a video of Glow Worm and I flipping through the book.

Did you guys know I wrote a book about how to teach your kids Chinese? It’s chock full of useful tips, an action plan, and more snark than your typical how-to. (affiliate link) Please check it out, share, and buy.

Suck It Up, October

How is October over?

This month has been super stretching for me – lots of sucking it up, so to speak. Which is good. It hasn’t been comfortable and I haven’t slept enough this last week or two so I’ve been super cranky.

But I’m glad.

Too often, the last quarter of a year seems like a lame duck period for me. I’m looking forward to next year, trying to plan ahead and gear up for it. The year isn’t over yet but I kinda want it to be over because NEW THINGS!! SO EXCITING! It is so tempting to just let the next few months slide and start over in the bright and shiny new year.

This year, I’m going to end my year of Sucking it Up with a BANG.

So, what was I up to this month? Here’s how I did on my goals:

1) Take family and personal health seriously.

What does that look like? I want to:

a) Cook at least 5 meals a week.

Still plugging along as usual. Next year, I may have to expand my repertoire because I think my kids are getting bored. They look forward to the weekends because then they don’t have to eat what I cook.

Jerks.

However, I did introduce Cookie Monster to the over medium egg with a dash of soy sauce on it and he LOVES them. Gamera has always liked fried eggs but it’s a new thing for him. It reminds me of my childhood and my parents frying eggs for us on the occasional lazy weekend morning so I’m really pleased he enjoys them.

b) Be active once a week.

I am still walking Glow Worm to and from preschool at least once a week so I WHOOO! IN YOUR FACE, INACTIVITY!

c) Wash face and brush teeth twice daily.

I’m still pretty good about washing my face in the morning and slathering on the sunscreen but I am like, 1 in 5 on washing my face at night. I don’t want to talk about brushing teeth anymore.

d) Take vitamins and supplements.

Again, I am good about remembering 1 in 4 days? The problem is that I will remember a few days in a row, then forget. Mostly because all the days run into each other and I think I have taken them when I haven’t. I really should be like those old people and lay out the pills in a pill box so I can tell if I have.

Ok. I just bought one (Amazon affiliate link). So ridiculous. So necessary.

e) Go to sleep when the kids sleep 4x a week.

I did okay on this. These last two weeks, I had a few writing deadlines so I stayed up really late several nights in a row and it wrecked me.

WRECKED.

I need to take my body seriously and become more efficient. Because I am no longer a young college co-ed. I’m a middle aged homeschooling SAHM of four.

f) No texting while driving.

FAIL FAIL FAIL. FAIL.

2) Take my responsibilities as a grown up seriously.

I FINALLY cleared out (well, not entirely, but mostly) my laundry room. It was getting ridiculous. We could no longer even access the laundry machines and it was a bit dangerous.

Now, I have to sort out the last remaining big bag of crap, but in general, it is no longer a safety hazard. WHOOOOO!

Before

After

3) Write.

I did really well on this again.

I finally finished a professional bio for a friend, wrote and submitted to a few sites, and several companies approached me to partner with them. I even pitched a few companies to partner with them.

So, when I say writing, I mean the BUSINESS of writing. And this month, I did a LOT on my business. I will have a separate, more involved post on this later, but in short, I hired Brandi Riley for her coaching services and she kicked my ass (and business) into a higher gear.

Because of her, I have already earned more in this month than I ever have, and have already recouped my cost of her coaching. Brandi is worth every penny and every minute and every second.

If you’re not sure about getting her one on one coaching and just want to check her out in action first, she runs a (affiliate link) Courage to Earn MORE Facebook group that has a few spots left for the months of November and December.

Brandi is the reason I am a few steps closer to my dreams of being internet famous.

Alright, that’s it for me this month. As usual, some there is an ebb and flow to my successes and failures. How did you do at the start of Q4?

6 Things to Look for in a Planner

A few weeks ago, I mentioned on Facebook that my favorite ink+volt planner just came out with their 2018 version and as a result of a few comments, I thought it would be fun to discuss what I personally look for in a planner.

Then, I thought it would be cool to see if ink+volt would be willing to partner with me. (I’m trying to be bolder in reaching out to companies.) Since I already bought their planner for myself, ink+volt generously offered to send a black 2018 Signature Series Planner to one of my readers (US residents only).

So, make sure you comment on this blog post (make sure it’s on the actual blog post and not on the Twitter or the Facebook) and I will choose a winner at random. Please leave a comment before Friday, October 27, 2017 at 11:59 pm.

Incidentally, I am not getting paid for this post; I purchased this product with my own personal funds and the only thing I am receiving from ink+volt is the black 2018 Signature Series Planner that I’m giving away.

Anyhow, as many of you know, I am a stay at home mom of four children. I homeschool my older two, send my third to Chinese preschools, and also have to keep my one year old alive.

Between all the classes and extra-curricular activities for my kids, my never-ending task list for the household and family, and my own personal goals and plans for my blog and its growth and expansion, I was having a really hard time keeping track of things.

I was super frustrated with all the planners that I saw because none of them fit my life.

I used to be a huge fan of the Franklin Covey Planners, but they are expensive and I no longer used them in the same way I had in high school, college, and at work. In fact, I started to see them as a huge waste of money because I didn’t really need a daily planner with each day broken down by hour.

The thought of writing in all our classes and appointments seemed silly and redundant because I have a smartphone with Google Calendar installed. Plus, I never carry a paper planner around with me because it just adds weight to my diaper bag/purse.

No thanks.

The problem was, though, that I could not figure out a way to keep track of all the repetitive daily tasks I had to do – as well as other items on my to-do list. Plus, I wanted a centralized place to write down thoughts and ideas for my business.

I tried all sorts of apps and fancy tracking systems for my tasks and goals. I even paid money for some of them! They all failed. (Or rather, I failed them? I don’t know.)

I am a very visual person and I really needed my tasks and goals to be laid out in front of my eyeballs and apps just did not cut it. Plus, it is still really hard for me to brainstorm or even see all my thoughts when it’s on a tiny screen.

I felt like a constant failure.

Then, I saw a ink+volt’s Kickstarter for their planner on Facebook near the end of 2015.

I must have watched the ad at least 5-6 times with great longing. It sounded so beautiful. To have a planner that would help me reach all my goals! It appealed to my little Type-A heart.

But I was afraid.

I was afraid that I was setting myself up for another disappointment. Plus, it was $40 for a planner and I wasn’t really keen on spending $40 for a planner I wasn’t sure I would use.

But then, I thought, what did I have to lose? $40 isn’t TOO bad – and WHAT IF IT WORKS? WHAT IF IT IS TRUE?

What if it really COULD change my life?

Well, long story short, (HA! As if I could ever tell a story in brief.) I loved it. And it changed my life.

Here then are the things that I look for in a planner – and how ink+volt’s planner hits the majority of them to my immense satisfaction.

1) Lays flat.

This is super important.

The last thing I want when I’m looking at my planner is to have to find something else to weigh it down so it doesn’t close up on me. Also, that would block part of my view of what I’m scheduling. That just seems counterproductive.

The ink+volt planner lays flat despite it being a hard bound book. There is no spiral binding to get in the way of my hand if I have to write near the fold of the book and I can see the entirety of both pages – even if it’s near the crease.

2) Large, legible font.

Look, my eyes are NOT getting any younger. When I was in my youth, I didn’t mind tiny print. Now, I do not have the time nor inclination to hunt around and make sure I’m on the right page.

Since the 2018 ink+volt planner has been redesigned, I miss the giant font for the “Week Of” portion, but love that it now includes the dates of the whole week instead of the first day only. (It’s still legible – just not GIANT.)

Even with that minor detail, everything else is still an easy to read, large font. My eyes are grateful for the lack of eye strain.

Font size of 2018 ink+volt planner

3) Sturdy, quality materials.

Look, I like a deal as much as the next person, but I also hate things that fall apart. And since this is a weekly planner, I will be using it all day, every day. The last thing I want or need is for pages to rip out at a perforation (because knowing my luck, it would be something important) or the ink to bleed through the pages, or even have the cover rip off or start curling.

I am pleased to say that despite living on my kitchen table and in my laptop bag, the ink+volt planners have survived each year with little wear and tear.

I have spilled tea and all sorts of food stuffs on it and the pages have not turned to mush and ripped or torn. They kind of crinkle after drying, but they did not disintegrate. The ink barely bled.

The covers are sturdy and aren’t scratched or nicked. Even the rounded corners have stood up nicely. The two ribbon bookmarks did not fray or tear out.

This planner is meant for daily abuse and it can take it!

4) Good balance in planning elements: not too structured and not too blank.

For me, any planner with an hourly section (as well as lots of tiny sections to fill out) makes me break out into a panic. I also panic when there are completely blank pages (like the Bullet Journal). The former makes me feel too much pressure to fit my life into their suggested boxes and the latter makes me feel too pressured to design the best flow/calendar/doodles/etc.

I like the ink+volt because it is a good balance between the two extremes.

These planners split week days into morning, afternoon, and evening sections. Weekend days are about half the size of a weekday – which works out well for me. (Not so for some of my friends. They cram a lot more into a weekend day than I do in a normal day.)

I’m so happy they don’t have hourly breakdowns because quite frankly, my life is not measured in such minute (pun intended!) blocks of time. I need space to breathe. With hourly schedules, I feel as if I have to throw away my entire day if we get off track (even if just by 15 minutes).

I understand that may be a personal problem or quirk, but that’s what works for me. If you are someone who can stay on schedule and also live and die by those minutes, I can see how the lack of an hourly schedule would be annoying.

Keep in mind, I note all my appointments in my phone – so I really do not need the hourly slots to remind me of when I have to be somewhere.

I use my planner for the big ideas – as well as to list the small details of my big ideas. I do not use it to keep track of daily living.

Incidentally, the ink+volt has weekly journal prompts but I also hate journal prompts so I ignore them and just use the empty space for working out whatever it is I need to work out. This year, they added tiny dots in a grid pattern so it resembles the Bullet Journal in that aspect, but I like them because I think it will help me write in straighter lines.

Weekly View of the 2018 ink+volt planner

Monthly View of 2018 ink+volt planner

5) Well thought out design – especially the Goals section.

Technically, this could be under the previous point. However, I feel as if this particular feature deserves its own bullet point because one of the main reasons I bought the ink+volt planner was for how they designed their goal section.

I LOVE how there is a yearly, monthly, and weekly goals section and pre-made boxes to check off. (I love checking off boxes. I also love crossing items off a list. Sometimes, I do both.)

Monthly Goals in the 2018 ink+volt planner

Weekly Goals in the 2018 ink+volt planner

I LOVE how there is a place to list your big accomplishments in the yearly, monthly, and weekly sections, too. All too often, we forget all the awesome stuff we have done and then, when it comes time to reflect upon the past year either personally or professionally, we think we’ve done nothing.

These sections remind me that I’ve done a LOT worth celebrating.

Yearly Goals and Accomplishments in 2018 ink+volt planner

They also have a page where you focus on a habit to change each month and provide boxes for you to check off when you do it for each day that month. I confess, I don’t use this section much – but I have in the past and it did help!

As an aside: I have definitely found that by actually filling out the goals sections and then actively reviewing them on a weekly basis, I have gotten much better at following through on the tasks I need to do to get what I want. So I am absolutely grateful for this planner.

Would I have gotten the same results using some other planner? Probably. I don’t think that any particular product will be a magic bullet unless you personally do the work. However, this particular planner called to me and because of that, I was able to use its system to accomplish what I wanted.

In addition, there are lovely and useful details that make the planner easy to use. There are two ribboned bookmarks you can use – that though not quite enough for me personally, I still appreciate.

I use one bookmark a the current monthly view and I use the other bookmark at the current week schedule. In addition, I have a sticker tab at the yearly, monthly, and weekly goals pages as well as a tab at the very end where there are blank pages. (Ink+volt also sells planner accessories – I just use what I have on hand for free at home.)

Plus, the planners all now have a half-pocket included on the back cover for you to slide important notes or loose pages. I don’t really use it, but I do have my kids’ master homeschooling schedule tucked in there for reference.

Pocket on back cover of 2018 ink+volt planner

6) Leaves a lot of room for personalization.

Personally, I hate adding stickers, washi tape, or doodles to my planner. It stresses me out. I want things to be consistent from January through December and would make myself sick with worrying about whether I used the same sticker for a thing that I used last time – and all sorts of nonsense that in general, I do not consider personalization a bonus.

However, I recognize that not everyone has my problem and inability to chill. So, for those of you who love to decorate and go wild with stickers and washi tape and who knows what else – there is plenty of space for you to indulge your creative sticker using urges.

Plus, ink+volt have an undated version of their planner that you can use if would like to start using the planner right away and don’t want to wait for the new year.

Incidentally, one of my friends uses undated planners in a completely unexpected way. I thought folks just got the undated planners and then added in a full year’s worth of dates from whatever start date they choose. But she actually only fills in the date on the days she actually uses/needs her planner!

I found that SO interesting – and something my little Type-A heart would have never thought up! You can’t do that with the ink+volt undated planner because they do label the week days. BUT, you could ostensibly copy her idea and only use the weeks you want to.

I find this to be mindblowing in the sense that it would never in a million years occur to me to use a product in this manner. But she did and does and it works for her. (The coolest part is that she thought of it on her own – as in, it wasn’t some life hack she read somewhere. So creative!)

Anyhow, these are just a few of the things I look for in a planner beyond the obvious “is it pretty?” question. I have been very satisfied with my ink+volt planner and look forward to another productive year with it in 2018. (In true fact, once it hits August/September every year, I start looking out for their emails to buy the next year’s planner. I worry they will sell out!)

All in all, so glad there seems to be a planner out there for all of us – and that it doesn’t have to be the same one. What do you look for in a planner? Which planner have you found to be your favorite? Let me know in the comments.

Don’t forget. Enter to win a free black 2018 Signature Series Planner (US residents only) by leaving a comment on this post before Friday, October 27, 2017 at 11:59 pm.