Thanksgiving Party II

Last year, Carl and I started a really fun tradition.  Because he was going to be gone for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Valentine’s Day, I decided we would celebrate a “Friendsgiving” feast a little early.  We picked a day in late October that I was off and he was around, and we had so much fun that we decided to repeat it.  Carl’s mom was in town, so we had an excuse to party!

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DSC01258This year, our friends really came through with the food.  We provided the turkey, mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole and they brought the rest.  There was a huge spread–barbecue meatballs, garlic cauliflower, cranberry stuffing, and ALL. THE. PIE.

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We’d been expecting a huge typhoon, so a lot of people cancelled last minute.  People asked if we were going to cancel, but we’d already defrosted the turkey–the show must go on.  As other people frantically shopped for typhoon prep groceries, we hunkered down and prepared a feast.  I figured whoever could make it would be there, and if nobody came, we’d still have the basics covered.

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I love that in Okinawa, every party quickly becomes a baby party.  Teagan is currently super into touching everyone and everything, and luckily the other babies were on board.  When her babyfriend Sojourner showed up, the two sweet girls instantly grabbed each other’s faces–adorable!  They rolled around on the floor and inspected various price tags and pillows.

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DSC01268When it was finally dinnertime, Carl made a sweet speech about being grateful for family.  We loved hanging out with our Okinawa family and having Laurelee here to party!

This year, I’m grateful for a sweet family and a warm home.happy reading

 

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Weekend Update: Baby Party

Disclaimer: It’s 2AM and I’m attempting to stay awake to switch to night shift.  This post may be slightly loopy.

This week, we got sick of going out to eat and invited a bunch of my friends over for salads.  It was incredibly fun–five women and two babies doing nothing in particular.  For a while, we all were sitting on a corner of my bed staring at the babies and laughing. The other baby was younger than Teagan, and she was totally bullying him and loving it!

DSC01236.JPGI love these ladies!  Okinawa is such a unique place, and here your friends quickly become family.

We’ve also enjoyed taking Laurelee to some of our favorite places.  Today was a total girl’s day–pedicures, sushi, and shopping.

Does it get better than this?

Currently reading: Maranatha Road, Heather Bell Adams

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Osaka

We are having a blast with Carl’s mom in town–it’s so nice to have family around helping with little things.  Teagan loves getting to know her grandma, and we love showing her the island.

This weekend, we took her to one of our favorite cities–Osaka!  We got to work enjoying kuidaore (“eat until you fall down”) style food, Osaka’s speciality.  First up: okonomyaki.  Okonomyaki was invented post-WWII when food and supplies were scarce.  Some creative mama with a home full of hungry kids decided to invent a cabbage pancake filled with whatever’s in your kitchen.  Like all fried food, okonomyaki is best enjoyed with beer.DSC01047.JPGDSC01042DSC01044

We stayed in an adorable apartment that was completely Doraemon themed.  What is Doraemon, you ask?

Doraemon is a cat-like robot from the 22nd century of the future. His favorite food is dorayaki, a sweet bean paste filled bun, and his birthday is 2112-9-3 he is also know by the name “Ding-dong”. He weighs 129.3 kg, is 129.3 cm tall, can leap 129.3 cms in the air and can run 129.3 km per hour. He is afraid of mice and hates rats, his ears were eaten off by rats. He has a fourth-dimensional pocket on his abdomen from which he can take out many amazing TOOLS. Doraemon was sent back to the 20th century because Nobita’s grandson can’t bear to see his grandfather suffer. So he sent Doraemon to help out with Nobita’s troubles

EVERYTHING was Doraemon-themed.  The toaster, the toilet, the toothbrushes provided, the snacks were all on theme.  We were provided with Doraemon onesies, and when the owner found out that we had a baby with us, she brought a baby sized Doraemon outfit so we wouldn’t be left out.  I love Japan! So weird and great.

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The next day, we headed to Universal Studios Japan to explore Hogsmeade.  We dressed up the baby for the occasion: her shirt says I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.DSC01060

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We stayed all day and by evening, we were totally tired!  A restful night back in the Doraemon room, and we were back in Okinawa before we knew it.

I love Japan and this little family!

 

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.

happy reading

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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