Love You Always

Love you always. Sometimes, depending on which kind of family you’re from, it’s hard to believe you are truly loved. And I get that! Maybe your family is fighting. Or you can’t stand the price of food these days. But deep inside, even when my family is fighting (or when I’m the one fighting!) I know that they really, truly do love me.

Sidenote: The picture below is the book with my bear. I’ve had it for 10 years, and this bear has seen lots of places, like vacations, my EEG…and my bear is still well-loved by me.

*Note: This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Connect with WorthyKids/Publishing

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Publication Date: September 19, 2017
Author/Illustrator: Eileen Spinelli/Gillian Flint
Price: $15.99
Format: Jacketed Hardcover
Page Count: 32
Ages: 4–7

*Love You Always

I like that this book talks about loving, and how your family loves you no matter what.

I would recommend this book to anybody because we’ve all had families of different kinds, shaped in different ways, and we all know how it feels like to be loved and not loved.

I love my family so much, and I wouldn’t change a thing about them. I know they love me, too.

My favorite part is at the end when it talks about being the one on the family tree, and how you are loved – always.

Get your own copy *HERE.

Author Bio Eileen Spinelli spent Saturdays at the public library as a child, and it was there that she decided to become a writer. She’s authored more than fifty children’s books. Eileen lives in Pennsylvania. When she and her husband, Jerry, who’s also an author, are not writing, they are hanging out with their grandkids (30 and counting), playing Scrabble, reading, watching old movies, and raising Monarch butterflies.

Illustrator Bio Gillian Flint has had a passion for drawing and creating characters for as long as she can remember, so a career in illustration was a natural path for her to take. Her work has been published in the UK, USA, and Australia. She enjoys using watercolors, crayons, ink, and digital illustration. In her spare time, Gillian enjoys reading, spending time with her family, and pottering about in the garden on sunny days.

GIVEAWAY

One lucky reader will receive a copy of Eileen Spinelli’s Love You Always! (Giveaway open to continental US residents ONLY. If you have been a winner of one of our giveaways in the last 30 days, you are not eligible for this giveaway.)

For your chance to win, leave a comment below sharing your current favorite children’s book or just say “Howdy”. For extra entries, tweet about the series, share on Facebook, or leave a comment on any post on our family blog Keeping Up with the Moys. Leave separate comments to each extra entry with a link to entry if possible.

OTHER REVIEWS

Love You Always – Amazon | goodreads

+We received these books from WorthyKids/Ideals for free in exchange for an honest review.

*Note: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a tiny percentage if you make a purchase through my link at no extra cost to you. We received one or more items for review. Read my disclosure policy here.

Chance of Showers

My mom got an email when summer started, and through this, I got a great opportunity to go to a girls’ group called Project Serve. I had to pray about it. God was telling me yes, so I told my mom yes, I would go. The group was led by our choir director. In Project Serve, we planned out our service projects. This was one of the 3 projects that will happen. And here’s an inside glance on WHY we were there….

Introduction + Captions by: Melody (10)
Final Thoughts + Photos by: Joyce (Mom)

Why We Were There

First, we had to decide on an idea, then we decided on what to do, where to do it, and when. My partner and I decided that we would be making care packages for the homeless. It happened at my church last Sunday at Chance of Showers. There are regular volunteers who serve by helping with check-in, monitoring the showers, making meals, and prepping clothes, but they were short on people coming to sort and prepare care packages.

What We Did

Everybody had a little to contribute. We all were assigned parts at the beginning, but it turned out there was a lot at the church, too, so we got a lot of things from there. We filled four entire tables with care package items.

How Many Care Packages Did We Put Together?

At first, we were thinking 24 (the number of water bottles in the case we bought) but they told us there is an average of 48 people who come to Chance of Showers every 2nd and 4th Sunday afternoon. So the grand total (we counted multiple times) was 48 CARE PACKAGES! 

Making a Difference

We waited for a long time after we finished the bags because we didn’t know what to do. Luckily, we saw some people going into the showers…and they told us they were ready for us afterward since they were eating!

Handing them out was the hardest part. I was so nervous and didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know who was homeless and who wasn’t*.  Fortunately, the Chance of Showers coordinator came over and introduced us to everybody. Then we handed them out as we went. Some people refused us, turned us down…but a lot accepted. Some person even took two for their family! But one thing that really made me sad was when one guy came back and asked if he could trade his bag. We told him yes, of course he could, because, actually, every bag was different, somehow. So he ended up taking two instead of one. Wherever he is now, I wish him good health and I hope he doing great.

After we handed out the bags, the coordinator of the event was so grateful. He prayed with us for the homeless.

I was so glad to help them and it gave me a great feeling (even though I was hot).

You can help others in small ways too. Just think of the small ways you can help your community. It only takes one step…and one opportunity.

Thoughts from Melody’s Mom

*I remember having the same thought as Melody when our youth group served meals to the homeless in San Francisco. As we have been learning at our church, the population of homeless people is growing and they don’t always look like you see in the movies. Sometimes they are people who work regular jobs but unable to afford a place to live. This is not uncommon in the San Francisco Bay Area!

I am thankful for this opportunity from the girls’ choir director to learn and grow and lead in this way. Like I always post on (mostly) my Instagram account, I don’t believe our kiddos are the “future,” they are already doing amazing things! They can still learn from our wisdom and can’t fully “lead” yet, but they are definitely leaders.

Also, another learning point occurred when Emily was counting out items to be packed. Chance of Showers have received lots of donation items for the care packages but they have not been sorted so some of them are not in the best condition. There was a soap box that was fairly messed up and likely just decluttered from someone’s travel supply stash. I reminded her that if it wasn’t something she’d like to receive, we should put it aside and put in something nicer. Just because someone does not live like we do does not mean they are anything less. One neighbor shared a few months ago how our Sunday breakfasts have blessed him, not only because he got some food to eat, but because it was made-to-order like a restaurant.

Another thing to note is that service projects do not always have to take much time. This was our first time doing this so we didn’t know of the time commitment, but if you ever have 30-60 minutes to pack 50 care packages (there were 8 of us – 4 girls, 3 moms, and a leader), I’m sure you will be a welcomed help to this group!

What are some of the service projects you and/or your family have been a part of locally or globally? What was the experience like?

Note: If you are local to us and would like to donate or serve, let us know. Chance of Showers happens every 2nd and 4th Sunday afternoon, and Neighbors in Need (breakfast) happens every Sunday morning before church service. We also have opportunities to serve the kiddos in the community schools with the after-school program and many other ways.  I can already think of a dozen groups/organizations in our area who are doing a wonderful work!

A Mini-Adventure in San Francisco

A Note from Joyce: It wasn’t until a few years ago after our trip to Seattle when we decided we should have the girls explore our original hometown of San Francisco (where there is ALWAYS something new to discover!). We have done two almost-all-day trips with visiting relatives and we have also been on a few shorter mini-adventures. (You can find a few posts on our old blog.) For this mini-adventure, we decided to drive a few minutes out from Chinatown to see a site made even more popular (again?) by the Fuller House series.

We recently went to San Fransisco. It was a special occasion, of course, because we don’t go as frequently as we could. It’s funny because we live 25 miles away from San Fransisco. So to get to San Fransisco, you have to pass through the tolls. There are always a lot of people going through there, which makes me wonder if there is traffic, but every time there isn’t much as I thought there would be (at the time we go).

This is us on the Bay Bridge. They knocked the old one down on the other side. There’s the new Salesforce Tower!

This is the Financial District, which is where my dad works. The buildings are super tall. I wonder what happens when there’s an earthquake.

The reason we were there was because we had a family member’s anniversary celebration, so we went to our old church in Chinatown. Before that Emily and I went to Sunday School, where we did a Bible study. We definitely met a lot of people who knew us from when we were little. This is the prayer before the anniversary lunch at the church.

They gave a lot of speeches and there was even singing!

This is a mural which, evidently, used to be new and vibrant-colored way back when. (When my parents were little, probably.)

This is us in front of the church. The church is 4 stories tall. We used to go there before we moved, which is when I was 1. That was 9 years ago. But once every year we go back and visit. I have to admit, I do remember some people!

The church is near the border of Chinatown and Nob Hill(?), so afterwards we went into Chinatown more. This is what you think of when you think of Chinatown. We went and got some bread. There was a lot of people there, so we just got jostled around. The buns were really good. Compliments to the baker!

If you live in San Fransisco, another thing you have to endure is…the hills. We had to walk UP 4 entire blocks of hills back to our car.

We always find something touristy and fun to do when we are in San Francisco! This time, we visited the Painted Ladies. These colorful Victorian-era houses were certainly vibrant. My favorite house was the lilac-colored one, which you can’t see in the photos because it was farther down.

There were a lot of houses – blocks and blocks of them! People just publicly sat and took selfies. I couldn’t believe they did that because people actually lived in those houses!

That’s me standing in front of all of the houses. I wonder if they’ll ever fall apart. Aren’t they old?

Here’s all of us as a family on the hill across the street from the Painted Ladies. I think one of them, in the background, was getting redone.

Selfie time! We took a lot of selfies. I guess we are one of those people. But I did see someone with a selfie stick…

That’s Emily jumping. She likes to do that, and dance. I don’t do that, so when they asked me if I wanted to do that, I said no.

The pastel colors are pretty!

Such detailed designs!

And one more random church we saw on our way back home.

Epilogue: Not included in the photos…which is the rest of the day…we went to my grandparent’s house (dad’s side) which is also in San Francisco while my dad went to Costco. After that, we went to my other grandparent’s house (mom’s side), which isn’t in San Francisco, for dinner. It was a busy day, for sure, but one to remember. I had a good time.

Have you been on a local mini-adventure lately? Where did you go?

If you want to know a few facts about the Painted Ladies, read more at UpOutSF.

Hayward Mural Program

Note: Check out other activities in our Summer Series!

Captions by: Melody (10)
Introduction by: Melody
Photos by: Mom Joyce

More info here –> hayward-ca.gov/residents/arts-leisure/mural-program

I’ve always known that Hayward has murals. Actually, the only one I think of is the one at the theater. You probably drive past them too. But do you ever wonder, do these murals have a history? For Memorial Day this year, my family and I got a chance to get an inside glance at some of Hayward’s murals.

#2 :: Hayward Historical Society Mural by Artist Josh Powell

This was supposed to be the 2nd mural on the self-guided tour, but we saw it first because we parked our car in a parking lot nearby. This mural shows how cars changed Hayward and started an era of rapid growth in Hayward’s history.

Downtown Utility Box (diagonal from the City Gateway Mural)

There are lots of utility boxes that are decorated, just like this one, with the trees on it. You just have to look.

#1 :: City Gateway Mural by Artist Andrew Kong Knight

This one was my favorite that we saw. I liked how the artist captured the light and made so many details. It almost feels realistic!

City Gateway Mural welcomes you to Downtown Hayward, where all of the murals are located.

#3 :: Russel City Mural by Artist Josh Powell

Russel City Mural reminds people of a long-lost erof music and community.

“The city may be gone, but the memories live on.” The city of Hayward still stands strong.

Downtown Utility Box (near Russel City Mural – Artist Jean Bidwell??)

Here’s another utility box that we admired. Since it has the Grand Ole Opry on it, all of the people on the utility boxes are country singers.

#4 :: El Taquito Mural by Artist Linda Longinotti

The El Taquito Mural was outside of a restaurant, so that’s why we were in a parking lot. I like the graceful curves in this mural. If I were to paint a mural (I never will!) I would have no idea where to paint these tiles so they lined up correctly.

#6 :: Italian-Themed Mural by Artist Linda Longinotti

As an Italian themed mural, you’d expect it to have some kind of Italian etched into it, right? Well, it does. A staircase with roses beneath it, Italian-style houses…the beauty brings you straight to Italy.

#8 :: Avalon Jewelers Streetscape Mural by Artist Suzanne Gayle

The first thing I thought when I saw this mural was, “Why is there a huge soda can being dumped on this mural?” and “Why does this mural show unusual things?”

As it turns out, life isn’t always happy. There is chaos and there are unusual things, like the pet frog. But I like how this mural tells the truth: One big happy family with all of our differences. (Like the pet frog, which Emily luckily spotted first.)
       

#9 :: Cinema Place Parking Structure Murals by Artist Andrew Kong Knight

All of the Cinema murals are theater-themed. I liked the one below because the artist used blending. I’m an artist myself so I know how hard it is to blend. How did he make the spotlights?

#7 :: Downtown Hayward Mural by Artist Suzanne Gayle

Everybody was in awe and amazed by this one. It’s not every day that you get an inside look (with a magnifying glass) at what Hayward is made up of. Take a look and see if you can spot anything familiar!

When we spotted this door, we were excited because it showed where all of the utility boxes were, and everything! Side note: Where can you spot Cal State East Bay?

   

Downtown Utility Box (near Downtown Hayward Mural)

Our last photo on the list was this utility box. My favorite color is purple, so I took a picture in front of it with my sister.

We went to the car after that and drove home. It was about a 2-mile walk, not including the ones that we missed (below) so you can probably take your kids if they don’t mind walking. It was cold that day, so that’s why I have my hood up. We did the self-guided tour, but you can always reserve the guided one, too!

We only made it to 9 of the 12 murals this day. The murals we missed are #10 Hayward Main Library Book Drop Boxes, #11 Grand Terrace Sund Wall Mural, and #12 Jackson Street Southern Retaining Wall Mural. There are also dozens of utility boxes, more murals around the city on walls and under freeways, as well as murals at (almost all) the schools in Hayward.

Have you been on a local mini-adventure lately? Where did you go?

Note: Check out other activities in our Summer Series!

Washington Manor Park [Parks + Playgrounds]

Next in our Parks + Playgrounds Summer Series is Washington Manor Park. This post is by Melody.

We’ve gone to Washington Manor Park before, but today was for our special Summer Series. So if you haven’t gone before, let me introduce you to the park!

They added a shaded seating area.

You can bring your scooters and bikes there too since there’s a path. It loops around the entire park, which includes: an outdoor water park, a toddler play area, an older kids area, and there’s also a sports area in the middle. And lots of grass, which is where there are lots of birthday parties on the weekend.

We found out when the best time to go is: Not during the weekend! We went on a Thursday (before school lets out for the day and for the school year). This is me with my mom. We like walking together.

This is the water park. I’ve only been in it once. But as you can see, it has a water slide and more different water fun off to the side. You can’t really see it, but there are lounge chairs on the left side, too.

Halfway through the loop, there are a few openings to the residential areas. I think maybe these people use it to their advantage and WALK to the park. I assume they know what time is the least crowded.

That’s the grassy area. On the weekends, it gets full with people! Can you imagine? But luckily, we went during a weekday, so as you can see, there’s no one there. Nice scenery!

The back park is mostly for older kids. Emily played there at the end.

I ended up riding Emily’s scooter because she was playing.

If I forgot to mention it, there’s also a ballpark there.

We used to go to this little kids playground.

Website | Yelp | Great Kids Park | Facebook

We have seen some amazing parks and playgrounds and would like to visit them all, but since we don’t really have time to do that, please share your pics with us! And we’ll be updating with pics from our mini-adventures!

What are your family’s favorite activities at the park or playground? Swings, carousel, rock wall, train ride, tube slide, bridge?

Watermelon Art [Afternoon Art]

*Note: This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

First in our Afternoon of Art Summer Series is Watermelon. (This post is by Melody.)

An Afternoon of Art

After we went to the park, we did an art project from Home Art Studio (2nd Grade). Home Art Studio is like a built-in teacher, like a personal tutor, kind of. We were going to do the first art project, which was watermelons, at the time.

Supplies + Materials

These were all the supplies we used in the project. As you can see, we used watercolor paint, watercolor paper, round paintbrushes, a tray, a black Sharpie, and a pencil. (You can see a list at the end of the post.)

There were the specific materials.

What We Did

The lesson started out with drawing one watermelon in the center.

This lesson involves overlapping and I thought that I could go freely with my watermelon. So I made five watermelons.

Then we traced the pencil drawings with a Sharpie pen.

There were the exact paints we used. She didn’t use the same brand as we did, so we were a little confused on the shades. But at the end, we finally had the right colors to make our watermelon – Chrome Green, Lemon Yellow, and Vermillion. (We were arguing over Vermillion and a darker red. But don’t you think Vermillion looks orange on the label?)

We also needed cups and water (not in the DVD’s list of materials) for the project, since it was watercolor paint, for watermelon. Doesn’t that just make your mouth water? :p

The instructor, Lindsey Volin, told us that watermelons are made up of 92% water. No wonder they’re so juicy! But I wonder…what gives them their red color?

You basically follow along with the instructor as she paints and draws along with you. At first, she read a Vietnam folktale about watermelons. It related to the summer-y project we were doing – yum! (This 2nd grade DVD is related to folktales, fables, and nursery rhymes.)

One lesson that I learned in this painting is that you can’t put too much water. Or paint. Or else you’ll end up having a not-so-great looking, moldy watermelon when the red and green watercolor mixes!

We finished our night happily by watching a movie and playing a game. We did do a puzzle too. So that brings me to a conclusion of our first summer day! Exciting and happy.

Here are the materials we used:

*Note: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a tiny percentage if you make a purchase through my link at no extra cost to you. Read my disclosure policy here.

Greenridge Park [Parks + Playgrounds]

First in our Parks + Playgrounds Summer Series is Greenridge Park. This post is by Melody with notes from Mom.

This summer, instead of just sitting around the house, being bored, (not cool), we came up with an organized schedule of things to do. It began on Tuesday. We have been to Greenridge Park many times with our MOPS group, for birthday parties, and just for fun with friends! It is at the top of the hill with a beautiful view of the Bay Area. It can be a bit breezy in the shade so bring a light cardigan or hoodie even on hot days.

Unless there are birthday parties going on, there are plenty of picnic tables, benches, and areas to sit, but you can always bring a picnic blanket to hang out in the grass. Another warning is if you have little (or big!) kiddos who like to explore on the sides of the main play area, it is hilly! I have yet to see a kid roll down the sides, but it can be challenging to talk to other parents if you are chasing your kiddo(s) or they are chasing their kiddo(s) to prevent rolling. :p

We went to the park first. It was only 9:00 a.m. because we wanted to get there before everybody else, so it wasn’t that crowded. It also wasn’t that hot, just a little breeze. We invited friends to join but at the last minute and it is also up on the hill and I think people still had their regular school activities going on, so next time we will plan better. The two days before this, it had been hotter than usual so we couldn’t decide a good time to go, so I do am not a fan of complaints of being too hot from any kiddo or myself! :p

This is the main playground area but if you walk a bit down the hill to the right of this photo, you will find a basketball court as well as an unpaved(?) path to the side of it. I believe there are also a few other trails somewhere, but we have never ventured on them before. There are also bathrooms, but they are not in the best conditions, so count on changing diapers in the car/trunk if you have a baby. There are drinking fountains. There is a field behind the tree in the photo and our friends have enjoyed flying a kite and doing those Nerf rocket launcher things, but beware that they can get stuck in the trees.

After we went scootering. Greenridge has a little path that you can ride bikes or scooter around while others play. There’s also a bench that parents can supervise from. We only stayed for a bit, but we did get our walking time by walking down the path. We started our Baby Steps to 5k walking program again, so that’s what Melody is referring to when she said ‘walking time.’ It’s a good summer activity. Note: Go at 9:00, when no one is there! But go with friends!!! It is a bit isolated, but there was also a person or two visible while we were there. They were walking their dog, coming back from a walk, or just walking through on their morning walks.

Side story: There were two older ladies who were walking and talking and one asked if we were Japanese. I said we are Chinese. She asked from where. I said my family was from Guangdong. I’m not sure what else she said because it was in Mandarin. Knowing I am Cantonese-speaking, she should have figured out I have no clue what she was saying, but she continued to talk to me in Mandarin every time we stopped near her. Toishan would have been better! There was only one time when she tried motioning something and I took it to mean her wanting to know what grades the girls were in. So we figured that out, but oh man, that one year of Mandarin classes in college did not help at all.

Yelp | Great Kids Park

We have seen some amazing parks and playgrounds and would like to visit them all, but since we don’t really have time to do that, please share your pics with us! And we’ll be updating with pics from our mini-adventures!

What are your family’s favorite activities at the park or playground? Swings, carousel, rock wall, train ride, tube slide, bridge?