Weekend Update

When I was on maternity leave I [halfheartedly] considered going back to work early for a practice day just to work with nothing on the line.  I didn’t want the pressure of being short-staffed with a full waiting room, but I was never worried enough to come back early.  That sweet baby took up every second, and before I knew it I was back at work for real.

I can’t believe how lucky I was! I worked with two great nurses and we had a nice shift (“slow” is a swear word in the E.R.)  For twelve hours, I barely spoke of babies or breastfeeding.  I’d forgotten how much I liked the people I work with–they are such go-getters.  They do crossfit, they take Japanese lessons, they collect exotic sea creatures from secret beach locations.  I love hearing about their adventures.  Meanwhile, my sweet husband had volunteered to take the baby for the day so the transition was that much easier.  No dropping her off with strangers–instead I got text updates and dad got a run for his money.

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I got my practice day after all.

After just the one shift, it was back to the weekend!  Carl and I met up with another family of go-getters who were brave enough to take their six day old to the beach. We loaded up the fans and shade creating devices to keep that baby cool while the boys and I took turns snorkeling.  We joked that the bravest one was the mama who showed off in a bathing suit just six days after having a baby.  What a champ!

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This snuggle sesh didn’t last long–my chunky babe was cuddling little Teddy a little too hard!

Can you believe those baby blues?  The water was perfectly warm, and filled with colorful fish–a snorkeler’s paradise.  Our afternoon was capped off with Matthew spearing what we think was a parrot fish.  We had such a great day with this little family!35406160414_b99850d67e_o (1).jpg

Today is what we call a “rest and regroup” day.  Groceries, cleaning, Neflix.  I have absolutely no faith that this next week will be as smooth as the last, but I am so grateful.

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Things I Did on Maternity Leave

This week, I have to go back to work.  Womp, womp.

I always knew I’d want to work while raising kids.  Stay-at-home moms are superheroes, and I respect the hell out of them, but that’s just not me.  Going back to work feels like eating my veggies–it’s something that I want to do, but also really, really don’t because my baby is the best baby in the world (sorry, other babies) and I love her and I’m pretty sure that I will have a meltdown every five seconds that I’m at work.

When I was first getting used to having a plethora of time and a dearth of free hands, I frantically googled “things to do on maternity leave”, “what to do while breastfeeding”, and “how to work out with baby”.  The search turnout was less than satisfying, and I quickly found my own answers (respectively: whatever you want, Netflix, and stationary bike).  I’d like to think this list might help some busybody mom like me, but if nothing else I will have a list of my teeny accomplishments.

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WHAT I DID DURING MATERNITY LEAVE

(in order of least to most significant)

  1. Watched all of The Office, Riverdale, and Friends
  2. Went to brunch a LOT
  3. Drank a lot of delicious coffee
  4. Savored the occasional afternoon nap
  5. Cleaned my house.  Thanks, Roomba!
  6. Took the babe on numerous stroller walks to the beach and the convenience store
  7. Pumped enough breastmilk to fill my freezer
  8. Figured out how to accomplish everyday tasks with one or no hands
  9. Explored Okinawa again
  10. Survived our first mini-deployment
  11. Travelled to California and Tokyo
  12. Attempted to get back in shape, not an easy task as a temporarily single mom
  13. Caught up with so many old friends
  14. Introduced T to her grandparents, her aunt, great-grandma, great-uncle
  15. Cuddled this babe for approximately 12 weeks straight.  Loved her more than I ever knew was possible.

 

Weekend Update–Dad’s here!

It’s been nonstop family time for this baby.

This week, my dad is visiting from San Diego.  T is having a blast getting to know her family, and I am taking full advantage of the situation.  Oh, you want to hold her? Mind if I use the bathroom, eat breakfast, go to the gym, do my hair, take a nap?  With an extra person around to help, at times I feel like I have restless arms–they’re used to attempting to do it all.

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The only downside to visiting Okinawa this time of year is the debilitating heat.  If you’re outside for more than fifteen minutes, you start to melt like a human candle.  It feels like drowning inside a microwaveable steam bag of veggies.  It feels horrible.

I read something called “Mommy Milestones”; similar to baby milestones (I can hold my head up! I can roll over! I can sleep through the night!), Mommy milestones are a way to celebrate your new abilities a mom.  During all of the visiting, I’ve been able to hit so many milestones.  First gym visit without baby, first gym visit with baby, first successful car ride without a screaming baby, first international travel.

With my dad here, I’m exploring parts of the island and doing all kinds of things I wouldn’t normally do alone.  More on our adventures soon! Right now I have to take advantage of the fact that my kid is sleeping.  Time to use the bathroom, eat breakfast, go to the gym, do my hair, take a nap.

Hope your weekend is half as fun as ours has been so far, and half as hot!

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Oh, Sweet Summertime

I’ve been lucky enough to travel home pretty frequently while living overseas.  I love being able to take Teagan to meet my family and close friends that I’ve known for years.

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More on the trip later–right now I’m busy soaking it all in.

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Weekend Update: Maureen is here!

When people make the effort to visit us here in Okinawa, I know that they must really love us.  It’s incredibly expensive, and such a huge undertaking to fly for almost 24 hours each way.

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Maureen came out to Okinawa last week, and we’re having the best time.  I am loving having another pair of hands to help me with T.  I’m getting spoiled: I can shower for longer than thirty seconds without the relaxing sounds of a hysterical baby.  I have someone to share every mundane baby noise and movement with.  Sometimes I even get to eat with two hands!

35312066772_f02ac4fb18_o-1-e1498215051826.jpgHaving visitors always brings out the best in me; I have a reason to get out and see touristy things.  We’ve seen ancient castles, gorgeous beaches and waterfalls, and of course we’ve enjoyed ramen and sushi.  It’s so nice to be with someone I’ve known long enough to just be with.  Instead of shallow conversations about people at work, we have pointless talks about Harry Potter character development.

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Today, I am thankful for good friends and good food.

Okinawa’s Hydrangea Garden (Yohena Asaji)

Last summer, we moved closer to Carl’s work and away from a lot of the “big city” areas of Okinawa.  Down south, there are cafes, malls, and so many Americans.  Where we live feels wild–nature is everywhere.  Beautiful beaches, overflowing jungles, and plenty of peace and quiet.

I’ve been looking for ways to stay local.  As fun as it is to spend long car rides with a screaming baby (she HATES the car seat), I prefer to find things to do a little closer to home.  When I heard about Okinawa’s Hydrangea Garden, I couldn’t wait.

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Yohena Asaji is so-named for its owner and founder, Mrs. Uto Yohena.  This year, she’s 100 years old!  She has been caring for the hydrangea fields for forty years, and before that they were tangerine fields.  The story goes that she started with one plant, and it did so well that she ended up with more…and more and more and more and more!  She is the ultimate plant lady!IMG_2630

There are over 10,000 hydrangea plants today.  It’s not just hydrangeas, though–she has all kinds of exotic looking and fragrant blooms.  I even spotted a few budding tangerine trees.IMG_2632Teagan enjoyed her nap in the carrier and only poked her head out for this photo.

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We finished off the afternoon with a shaved ice–delicious!

The past few days, I’ve gone to bed with such a full heart and a thankful spirit.  What else could a girl possibly ask for?

Currently readingBorn to Run, by Bruce Springsteen

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“No one you have been and no place you have gone ever leaves you. The new parts of you simply jump in the car and go along for the rest of the ride. The success of your journey and your destination all depend on who’s driving.”

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Fukushen Garden

Around here, weekend time together is precious.  On one of Carl’s last days off before he left, we decided to go exploring in Okinawa to a place I’d wanted to go for a long time: Fukushen Gardens in Naha.

Fukushen is a traditional Chinese style garden that was built to celebrate Okinawa’s sister city, Fuzhou.  It was smack in the middle of the city with walls on all sides.  When we bought our tickets, a greeter asked us where we were from–a tricky question in the military.   We told her Okinawa, and everyone laughed.

As soon as we were inside, the baby decided she was starving.  I parked myself on a bench overlooking a large koi pond and sculpted garden, one of the most peaceful places to feed a baby.  We were blessed with perfect weather, too: a light breeze kept us comfortable.

My favorite part of the sprawling garden grounds was the largest and according to the brochure, the most dynamic waterfall.

A dirt path took us into a rock cave behind the waterfall.  I was loving it!

All of that sleeping had T working up an appetite, so we pulled over at a nearby beach for a second lunch.  What a perfect day!

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I love continuing to explore Okinawa and finding out more about this beautiful island.

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T’s First Week

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Last week, we were discharged from the hospital and it suddenly felt like this baby was really mine.  Nobody was going to check on us every few hours to make sure I was feeding her, changing her, and not shaking her–it was totally up to us.  We barely made it out of the parking lot before I realized that I was totally starving and that we had nothing at home to eat.  Our first stop as a family was Taco Bell; so much for raising this kid right.

Our first week at home has been mostly feeding T all night and adventuring with her all day.  We’ve been good about keeping her in the Moby wrap while out and minimizing her exposure to stranger’s germs, but we really wanted to start showing her how cool Okinawa is as soon as we could.

It was a week filled with administrative work: her first doctor’s appointment, applying for her passport, finishing up a few loose ends at work that I’d dropped once I was admitted.  We took her for a newborn photoshoot, and I LOVE how they turned out.

We decided to use cloth diapers, which has actually been a lot easier than I expected.  The biggest challenge has been fitting the diapers tight enough to her chicken legs to avoid leaks.  This girl is little, but she can sure eat!

As far as babies go, we got a good one: she will eat anywhere, anytime.  It’s been great to be able to breastfeed her inside the Moby wrap so that I can be hands-free for grocery shopping or more realistically, texting.

So far, the biggest change has been that everything takes just a little bit longer and I am definitely not the boss of my life anymore.  We can’t necessarily get out the door to make a 9AM appointment if somebody decides that she’s starving at 8AM.  The few times I’ve tried to bend her to my timeline do not go well; I end up showing up on time, but carrying a screaming baby with a full diaper.  Not ideal.

Today, my mom flies in from San Diego, and I can’t wait to see her! Big T is going to have a blast.

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An Early Thanksgiving

I’ve talked a lot on this blog about Carl’s upcoming trip, and in a lot of ways I am so excited for him! He is going to be able to do so many things and travel to new places–it will be a great opportunity for him.

One thing that I’m NOT as excited about is the face that he is going to miss several holidays.  He’ll be gone for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and Valentine’s Day– all the big ones.  To make up for at least one of the holidays, we had the idea to host an early Thanksgiving dinner with our dearest friends here in Okinawa.  Even though it was almost a month early, everyone got into it.

We haven’t really had anyone over to our new house yet, and of course I was a little nervous.  When the count kept growing, I was scared there wouldn’t be enough food.  In the end, about twenty people showed up, and there was more than enough food for everyone!

The nurses I work with love to eat and share food together, so I can’t claim credit for all of this feast.  It was more fun than I’d expected to have so many friends over and so many kids!

Once the sun went down, we headed up to the roof and watched the ocean and the stars.  The kiddos loved the occasional airplanes flying past, and the adults loved the cool breeze.

All in all, it was a great day and I was so glad that we got to have a family Thanksgiving dinner.  It’s easy to be thankful with so much to be grateful for.

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Currently reading: You Can’t Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson

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Weekend Update: A Little Me Time

This week, Carl left for the Philippines.   This trip was only a few days, but soon he will be there for a good long while.  When he’s gone for short trips like this, I love to live it up!

I took myself out to lunch by the beach, I had lunch with friends, I got myself a pedicure.  The house stayed exactly as clean as I wanted, and it was me running the show.  I even assembled a bookshelf that’s been sitting in the garage waiting to be made for weeks.  And yes, the bottom of it is on backward, but I’m no carpenter.  What more can you ask for?

Halloween

In other news, Japan is fully prepared for Halloween.  I will be in Hong Kong this year for Halloween, so I won’t be dressing up.  Hopefully we get some trick-or-treaters!

I was amazed when I first moved here at how the Japanese people are so into the holiday–they traditionally don’t celebrate All Hallow’s Eve, so why would Halloween be such a thing?  I still don’t quite get it, but it’s adorable.  The mall has been completely decked out since mid-September, and people dress up in costume for events you wouldn’t even expect.  A few days ago, we had visitors at work–a whole family of minions.  They’d come to see a friend’s newborn babe while in costume.  It was adorable.

Lately, life has been somewhat calm and I am incredibly grateful.  What a blessing to live on a beautiful tropical island with delicious food and wonderful people.  Today, Sunday, I am thanking God for all that I have.

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