The Internet Will Not Save Your Marriage

I’m addicted to Pinterest. That’s not how you thought that would start, was it? Haha! Well that is how this blog started for me. I go to Pinterest for everything. And then you know what happens? It does that little compatibility thing for me and picks Pins for me based on other items I have scoped out. 


(Really? Based on my zodiac sign that I share with a million people?!)

I am not sure what article I clicked on recently but my feed has been filling up with relationship “advice.” So it kind of caught my interest. I wanted to see the supposed “7 Resons To Break Up Even if You Are Happy.” Not because I believe it. I wanted to know what they were using as evidence to support these articles. As an individual who is finishing up my graduate degree I have learned: I need facts. 


You know what Pinterest gave me. Not facts. Loosely referenced “counselors” were behind these articles. I put counselors in quotations because the previsouly mentioned article actually titles someone “licensed counselor.” Which is just fine. I will also be licensed in counseling (hopefully soon!). In education. As a licensed education counselor, do you want my guidance on relationships? Probably not. Don’t get me wrong, there are bits and pieces of articles like these that really do make sense. That is not really the point of what I am getting at, however. 

I can say this, my husband and I don’t really fight. We have never had an argument that wasn’t resolved within a one day timeframe. I will also say we have been married “only” four years and together for six so I am no marriage expert by any means. What I can say with full certainty is, if my relationship was struggling in any way shape or form two things would absolutely not happen. The first being: I would not seek advice from an Internet article. The second thing is: you (any of you) would probably never know. 

I think the latter statement is so important. I hear women and men talking about their relationships so openly sometimes. And you know what happens? I gain an opinion of either both of those individuals or one of them. I have NO reason to know those things about an intimate relationship outside of my own. As a friend, please vent to me. However, also know that talking to people who are not a confidant about your marriage is opening your relationship to outsiders who are not in the marriage. When you allow others into your relationship that is when all of the sudden other people have this false sense of opinion to add. 

If you are struggling, be old fashioned. Go to a licensed counselor. Sit in an office. Sign a confidentiality agreement. Fight for your marriage behind closed doors. Don’t trust online articles from bustle.com who are geared to making money for expert advice. I know some of you are probably thinking “marriage counselors get paid a ton of money.” They may make a decent salary, yes. However, they have went through extensive school and hold a lot of liability when it comes to investing in your services. They make nowhere near what some of these big name websites are making by publishing gimmicky titled articles that are referenced rarely. 

That is my two cents for now 😁. Stay in love my friends ❤️. 

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The Beef and Garlic Festival: Takko Town

Today I went to the Beef and Garlic Festival in Takko Town with a friend and my daughter. Nick is out of town for a few weeks and he was super bummed he was going to miss this one. Everyone I talked to raved about this particular festival. People claim it is their favorite festival. And trust me-there are A LOT of festivals around here! 

We bought tickets from the travel place on base. Your tickets gets you 7 oz of meat, vegetables, and a small container of sauce. They explained to us that once you get your meat there are grills set up that you then take your food to and cook on. 


We were told it would be about 1.5-2 hour drive and it seemed to go fast until we got close and we were stuck in traffic. The road leading up to the festival did have light poles that looked like garlic bulbs and that was pretty funny.


Sorry for by awful photo. I took it through the car window while we were waiting in traffic. 😂😂. 

As we wait in traffic the suspense was just building. I was so excited about this festival. I think that was probably the reason it bummed us out. We had heard SO many amazing things about this festival. And I just was not that impressed, unfortunately. I will say, the beef was very delicious. I just didn’t think the 7 oz of meat was worth the $19 for the ticket. There is also a bus that drives people there from the base and I can see how that might make it a little more fun because that would allow you to enjoy a large quantity of alcoholic beverages while you were at the festival. 


I did get to finally use Scarlett’s wagon for the purpose we bought it! 


These were the indoor grills out of the sun. 


These were all the outdoor grills and the white covering in the back was a pavilion that had a live band playing. 


We always see these chocolate covered bananas and I finally got one for Scarlett. She only wanted to play with the sprinkles on them! Once you cooked your food there was some limited seating but we brought a blanket to do it picnic style. 


One odd thing was everyone wanted to take a picture of Scarlett. She is a very shy kiddo so this was a little uncomfortable for her and she did not enjoy everyone staring at her. Below is how we cooked the meat. Overall, I just did not think it was worth the 4 hours in the car but I am so glad we went and experienced it. And I know I will continue going to these things because it is just a part of the whole living in Japan life! 

Traveling Japan: Sendai Edition 

For Labor Day we went on our first “big” trip since we have been in Japan. By “big” I mean overnighter, haha. We spent three days there. I don’t really know how to describe what Sendai would be. For my Indiana friends, it has a larger population than Indianapolis. California friends, it has a larger population than San Francisco. 

We had a lot of things “planned” to do. I looked up a lot of stuff. Let me start from the beginning though. This was the longest Scarlett had been in a car since we got here and she did awesome! We were curious about the toll roads and if there would be travel plazas like in the US. We stayed on the same road pretty much the entire time so the trip was quite easy. The tolls…oh man the tolls. This place is crazy. We paid about $75 one way for a 3.5 hour drive. It really racks up the cost of a trip fast if you don’t plan for it. And the travel plazas were awesome! Some even have children’s bathrooms. Adorable! 

One of the things we had heard about was the small hotel rooms and man they weren’t kidding. There was zero extra room once we set up Scarlett’s pack-n-play.


Notice the robes at the foot of the bed? Those are for the onsen in the hotel. However, this particular place had a no tattoo policy so we were not allowed to utilize it. 

Another very shocking thing (for us) was that for such a large city nothing opened early. Even Starbucks didn’t open until 8am. I have noticed this a lot. Most stores don’t open until 10am with a few opening at 9am. For early risers like us this was a bit awful. Even before we had our daughter we were 6-7am risers. Also, for a city this size there was nothing to do for small children to just burn off energy. We would look up parks and walk to them and the “park” would just be a dirt patch that may or may not have been grass at one time with a few benches. We found about 4 of those! And with the size of the hotel room it wasn’t like we could just go relax in the room between venturing out. 

We learned quickly we need to learn more Japanese, and quickly! In Misawa where the base is most places have menus in English. This was not the case. We honestly felt like we were being idiot tourists by not knowing more! 

We did go to an aquarium, did some shopping, saw some historic sites, and wrapped up the trip with some Japanese style pizza! I didn’t care for the pizza here at first but it is really starting to grow on me. One of the nice things (and one of the selling points on the visit for me) was the outlet malls with American size clothing. However I did notice an abundance of size XS and 0 pants. 


Train station map. Yikes! 


Aquarium.


Noodles!


Very small clothing…everywhere.


Anpanman Children’s Museum 


Oh the translations sometimes. Weird shirt! 


Pizza! 


Sendai Castle. 

Overall it was a great trip. We learned a lot and will definitely do better planning the next time we go somewhere. 

Keep an eye out for my next blog. Tomorrow I’m going to a beef and garlic festival! Yum! 

Staying Organized in Chaos

So life with a soon to be toddler offers a specific type of challenge. That challenge? Keeping up with any type of housework. I have actually always enjoyed cleaning and organizing my house but it is just not as easy to keep up with the little things anymore.

Even on the days I am not completely exhausted and feel like cleaning I would much rather be spending time with my maniac and having the small panic attacks as I actually help her destroy my house. When Nick is gone the task of keeping my house in reasonable standards because a whole new challenge. Thankfully I have a few tricks that have helped me greatly and I thought some of them may also help other moms struggling with keeping up with house chores.

I have two things I do concerning laundry that helps tremendously. Since most of the clothes my daughter wears, and honestly mine, are colors I immediately put all her clothes into the washer after I give her a bath. After a few days of this I will run the washer. I usually do one or two of these random loads of laundry a week. This also limits the amount of laundry I have piling up on the weekend. The next thing I do that is helpful is on Sunday and each time I do laundry I always sort her laundry into outfits and put it on the top of her shelf. Each morning all I need to do is grab an outfit off the top!

The next thing I do is pick up each night no matter what. This seems easy but let’s be honest, it is not. After getting drenched in water at bath time, kicked while putting pajamas on, and struggling for five minutes to brush a 22 month olds teeth, the only thing you want to do is leave that ball in the middle of the room, that sippy cup under the table, and the blocks right where they are. I mean, you can always get to them tomorrow, right? No. I always just pick up. I don’t necessarily organize anything. But books are back on the shelf, the DVDs that were ripped out of the TV stand are put back in the stand, and for goodness sake-put those blocks away because stepping on those things at 530am causing you to scream some choice words is just going to wake that maniac toddler up 30 minutes too early.

My next rule is the dishwasher. I cook most nights so it is usually full and I will it every night. Now if it is less than half full I won’t run it because I do like to attempt to conserve water when I can. Most nights though, I just run that thing through a wash!

The final thing I do to keep somewhat above water is one additional thing every other night or so. Today I vacuumed. Some nights I clean out the fridge of leftovers. It could be mop, or even clean the showers or toilets. Just one task that takes about 5-10 minutes. Because I can assure you 10 minutes during the week that adds up to eliminating an hour of my Saturday afternoon is completely worth it to me!

I will say, I understand I have one kiddo compared to some of your three. At this point, my daughter does not have homework or any extracurricular activities. However I do find the idea of just trying to one chore a night still reasonable and it really does help me with my husband being gone.

What do you do to keep your head above chores?

 

I’m Not A Single Parent

Sometimes people who are not familiar with the military life (and some who are) ask me “how’s it going being a single parent?” when Nick is gone and I get a little annoyed. My husband was gone for about ten weeks over the summer and he is away right now for a just a few weeks. At no point does this make me a single parent. 

I have friends that are single parents. Some were in a relationship that didn’t work, a death of one of the parents, or horrific abuse that they knew they could never raise a child in. My situation does not fit any of these circumstances. There are many reasons that make it drastically different. 

My husband does not want to be away from us. He would much rather be home with his wife and daughter. However, the military requires things outside of our control sometimes. 

No matter how hard it is taking care of our 22 month old on my own, I still have the emotional support from him. I (thankfully) get to talk to him each day. If the toddler maniac is in full force and I want to cry in a  ball-he is still there to provide me with comforting words. Single parents often do not have that support. 

The other large thing I still have is financial support. I know this may seem superficial, but hear me out. Kids are freaking expensive. From diapers, daycare, the food they waste because it doesn’t look the way they want it to, they will make you go broke. I just have no idea how so many people do it. I am sure all you single moms are much more budget savvy than I am and I’m sure you have stresses much beyond my comprehension about supporting your little blessings. I honestly respect you all so much.  

So if any of you see me while Nick is away please feel free to ask me how we are doing with him gone, but do not ask me how single parenting is going. I truly do not know. 

15 Months of Mommyhood

I really am awful about this whole blogging thing…and then a milestone hits and I’m like oh yea…I was writing about this stuff…ughhh.

All-in-all we still pretty much have a jackpot child. Seriously, a few rough nights here and there but this gorgeous little being we created is a pretty easy specimen from what I have witnessed and been told of others her age.

Her 15 month well baby was a few weeks ago and her “medical” stats were as follows:

Weight: 23.2 lbs (58%)   Height: 30 inches (44%)   Head: Big Fat ? She freaked when they tried to put the measuring tool on her. So that one is just a mystery. Haha.

She is currently at 14 teeth and I do believe 15 and 16 are coming through…she is chewing her fingers in that area of her gums an awful lot. It is so crazy to see that full mouth of teeth on such a little girl. I think it has helped with her eating for sure though. She almost never “chokes” anymore. When she has too much in her mouth she just takes it out and eats a smaller portion.

The big talk of children: sleep. We had a few nights last week and one this week where she woke up for a little bit in the middle of the night and I think that was due to a cold and the teething. Another new thing we have going on, that we are not fond of, is waking up at 5 am. What in the heck is up with that?! Again, I really hate to complain, she goes to bed at 6:30pm. We have started adjusting her schedule to see if that helps. We pushed back dinner and bath by about 15 minutes in hopes of getting her to stay awake until 7pm. We are slowly getting there. Tonight was about 6:45pm. She just gets so grumpy because she is sleepy and it really isn’t worth messing up her amount of sleep to me!

A few big changes we have went through is weaning the bottle and milk. I was really nervous about this. She was still getting one bottle right before bed each night (straight milk) and it was what would really get her into the sleep zone. The idea was to switch to a sippy cup of milk and then wean her off that to no more milk before bed. The doctor (and most things you read) really encourage the weaning of milk right before bed as teeth come in to avoid cavities at such a young age. Well to my surprise the first night without a bottle she didn’t want a sippy cup either. She pushed it away while we were in the recline and just closed her eyes and went to sleep. It was amazing.

Now I know many people will think we are crazy but she still isn’t “sleep trained.” And honestly at this point I do not have any intentions of really forcing it until what we are doing no longer works. After bath time I snuggle her in the chair and within five minutes she has heavy eyes and I lay her down in her crib while she is just slightly still awake. If it took us hours to put her to bed-I would definitely start working on the cry-it-out method. We just do not have those issues with her. She is more than ready for bed 90% of the time so in my opinion there is no reason to stop the 5 minute snuggle that helps her calm down for bed.

The next big step we will be working on with her is saying goodbye to her pacifier. I do not have a set time we will start working on this but I feel like with her getting so many teeth I am going to wait until she just finishes because I know the sucking can help soothe her. At the rate she is going she will have all her teeth well before two years old and that is absolutely when I would not want her to use it anymore but the “goal” is closer to 18 months.

This blog got long! I will do a follow up one with our daily routine, eating habits, and talking! I also plan on doing a 15 month postpartum blog about myself. I know that is always a curious topic! Until next time…hopefully not 3 months!

A Year of Firsts

You guys, I do not know how it happened…but we have a one year old 😦

One of the things I always get asked (and quite honestly-what I always do) is “when did Scarlett (blank)? Sleep through the night, crawl, walk, etc. So I thought I would talk about her year of firsts for reference. I can say I know she did some things much faster than other babies (teething) and some things she is taking her time (saying mom!). This is just how it goes I have learned! I will also say-as I started writing this blog I grabbed her baby book. This first year went so fast and all of these milestones seem to melt together. I am so glad I documented it! I would highly recommend it to new mommy’s.

So the big ones in order by age:

7 weeks: First real smile. She smiled when I tickled her cheeks.

8 weeks: Slept through the night. I considered through the night the first time she slept 8 hours. It seemed each week after 5 weeks she slept her age (6 weeks/6hours, etc). Now it is always 11-12 hours a night.

3 months: Laughed out loud. She also rolled over at about 3.5 months. I missed it the first time! I was vacuuming and I turned around and she was on her stomach! She did it again the next day twice and then took a break for several days.

5 months: First tooth! Well teeth. A few days before she turned 5 months she got her bottom two. She had 8 teeth by 8 months. She has consistently cut two at a time. She also tried baby food for the first time at 5 months. Based on her daycares recommendation we started with all the veggies and then moved to fruits. She also sat up by herself at the end of 5 months.

7 months: Crawled. It was around 7.5 months. She also started pulling herself up the same week she crawled.

8 months: Ate solid foods.

11 months: Walked. This kiddo cruised for about 3 months and would take steps in between Nick and I but she was just not having full on walking.

Development from 10-12 months is just insane. Baby babbles, waving, pointing, and just developing an overall personality just skyrockets. She says dada, doggie, book, duck, and has started trying to say our dogs’ names (Gilly and Rosie) but this little girl is not even attempting to say mom or anything closely related.

Physical growth over the year based on her well baby checks:

Born: 6lb 14oz, 19 inches

3 Month: 12lb 7oz, 22.5 inches

6 Month: 15lb, 25.7 inches

9 Month: 19lb, 27.5 inches

1 Year: 20lb 13oz, 29 inches

Current Teeth: 10, cutting 11 and 12.

Her doctor said her stats show her right in the 40 percentile range. She has been on the smaller side since she was born so nothing concerned the doctor as far as her physical development goes. She said things would only be concerning if she were in the 75 percentile and all the sudden her statistics dropped. Her next check up will be at 15 months.

So what things have we changed already since she has turned one? The doctor gave the go ahead to switch to whole milk and said it needs to drop to no more than 24 oz a day. She seems to be doing very well with the milk. We have not weaned the bottle yet. She starts back to daycare on Monday and they only give sippy cups there so we are going to do a morning and night bottle and have her take the sippy cup at daycare for a week or so then start weaning the morning bottle, then of course do away with a night bottle. She has been using a sippy cup for water since about 8 months, just not with milk. And now if she could just stay my baby instead of becoming a toddler that would be great…

…but since she won’t I have several other blogs I am working on about her smash cake and our adventures here in Japan so stay tuned!

 

Post-Partum Body…When Will I Be Skinny Again?!

Since being in Japan I have been getting back on focus with my fitness. And man is it frustrating. It is hard. It is hard to find time. It is hard to find energy. It is hard to make my body bend the way it used to. But here is my soapbox…that has nothing to do with having a baby!

I will say: having a child is hard on the body. We gain a dumb amount of weight. Some of us get stretch marks. Some of us pee on ourselves a little when we sneeze. And it is different for each of us. If you are familiar with my blog you will know-I had what I would classify as an easy pregnancy. I know some women are not as lucky. But the weight part-we have that control. I chose to eat fairly well and still managed to gain 34 pounds, but you know what? I was at pre-pregnancy weight in 12 weeks and then trained for a half marathon.

My point is: WE have control over the effort we put into being “skinny” again. A lot of this may be based on what you did with your body before you ever got pregnant. Were you eating junk food at every meal and not working out? You now need to get rid of that unhealthy lifestyle AND the outcome, whatever it was for YOU, of having a baby. For me, I’m pretty sure training for a half marathon is what got me pregnant in the first place.

I have been doing 15-20 minute workouts consistently for almost two weeks now and I am getting so annoyed! Where are my changes? Why aren’t my love handles gone? Where did my abs go? Then it hit me. You know what I did to have no love handles and flat abs pre-baby? I was running over 20 miles a week. I was counting calories. A few years ago-I was doing 45 minute workouts at the gym and running. I was committed to my health. I didn’t have a baby that needed me all the time. You know how long it took me to get to that point though? 3-6 months. For 3-6 months I was working out six days a week for a minimum of 45 minutes a day and a lot of days over an hour. Straight up truth? I do not have that time now. I just don’t. I do find the minimum of 20 minutes a day. In the place I am right now, that is pretty good. Can I find more? Most definitely. 10 more minutes exist in my day. Absolutely. It is MY choice whether or not I find them.

Last week I made the decision to cut sugar out of my diet. With only 15-20 minutes a day to workout, my diet is vital. I know this. I encourage you to do this: when you are complaining about not losing the weight you want to, your legs not being skinny enough, or your abs not being flat enough-ask yourself if you are really doing what you did to have those things previously. Did you work out for 30 minutes but have pizza and beer for dinner? You just erased that entire workout with food.

If you are getting frustrated step back. Focus. Our bodies go through a lot. And you can get it back. But only based on what effort we have to put into it! Me? I’m giving myself another few months to get back into shape before I get too hard on myself!

 

Feeding A (almost) Toddler

Feeding this little girl was SO much easier when she just needed breast milk! As she transitions into a toddler I can definitely tell she is much less interested in full bottles and is much more interested in real food! So how do we make that transition? This is what we are doing!

She started having “table” food at eight months at daycare. I know a lot of people are strongly against daycare facilities…but let me tell you something: I think they are angels! A lot of the tough transitions that children go through, childcare providers get the worst part of it. AND…I barely noticed what was happening! Anyways. So yes, table food at eight months.

Generally at this age babies can start to eat almost everything adults can. Just at much smaller portion sizes and in much smaller pieces. This is a little tricky in our house. We LOVE spicy food. Especially when I stopped nursing. I just wanted to throw jalapeños down my throat. What I have been doing since we love our spices so much is whatever meat we are having I set aside some for the baby and cook it separately. For instance, a few nights ago I made chicken yakisoba. I used one of the chicken breast and just lightly seasoned it with salt and pepper and cooked it separate from the rest of the meat. One chicken breast is actually like four servings for her!

We have had her on a really great schedule for as long as I can remember so it is actually sometimes a little hard to remember to give her real food. One of her bottles is at noon so lunch is the meal that gets away from me. She also very rarely wants very much, if anything, at lunch time lately.

She will get her first bottle of the day at 6am and then around 7:45 I will give her breakfast. Her favorite lately is Gerber oatmeal. She likes the kind with bananas in it. Another go-to favorite is the little frozen mini pancakes. She will also get a snack in between her 9am bottle and noon bottle. This is why she is never super into lunch. For snacks…oh man, it just depends what is laying around! She loves blueberry muffins and Gerber fruit and veggies pouches. Seriously, those things are amazing! I don’t know how we would survive without them. She usually sleeps from 12-2ish and with a bottle at 3pm a snack really just depends on how long she sleeps. Then dinner at 5pm, followed by the final bottle of the day at about 6:30pm.

As I mentioned before, the amount she wants in a bottle is changing fast. She normally would suck down 7oz of breast milk like she was starving to death. It is really common for her to only drink 5oz at a time now. I’m not sure if this is because the formula is more filling or she just prefers real food. I imagine it is a combination of both.

I am still pretty paranoid about the size I cut her food to so I keep it really small. Tonight we had pot roast and she pretty much had everything we did. Unfortunately, tonight she thought it would be fun to feed the dogs her food by handfuls and laugh hysterically so dinner was short lived! I can say…she is a little food thief. Whenever she sees us eating something she will walk up to us and tap our leg and make little smacking noises with her mouth. Its both funny and cute now. We should probably stop that habit though! Also, please ignore our fine china in the picture. The military hasn’t delivered our household goods yet!

Next up will be moving from bottles to sippy cups and formula to milk! She uses a zippy cup very well already. We just have not put milk in the sippy cup yet.

Nap Time Changes Make a Grouchy Baby!

So I really can’t complain. My child is a sleeping champ. I actually just put her down wide awake without a sign of sleepiness in sight and she was fast asleep in 5 minutes. With that being said…her sleeping patterns are changing so fast!

First, let me remind you of her old habits. She normally would get up around 5:45-6am. She has a bottle every 3 hours. It used to be at her 9am-ish bottle she would fall asleep for 30-45 minutes. A little mini nap. Then at her noon bottle it would be hit or miss whether she would nap. There was usually an hour long nap in there somewhere. You could just never be quite sure when. Because of this she would be exhausted and ready for bed a lot of days by 5:30pm. This was always kind of sucky when I worked. I would get her around 4pm and she would be ready for bed so quick. It was like we never got to see her!

Well now it looks like she is going to the big girl nap schedule and taking just one long one a day. She acts pretty sleepy at her 9am bottle but hasn’t been actually falling asleep. At her noon bottle though she will go down for usually an hour and 45 minutes. I do like this better. It means I get almost 2 hours to pick up the house she has managed to destroy in the 6 hours she has been awake. This can also be used as workout time and starting next week I will be back in school as well.

And I wish it ended there…but that pesky time from her 9am bottle until her noon bottle…she is a grouchy mess! I understand she is making a pretty huge transition with this change but wow. She loses her mind over everything. She drops her toy and bursts into tears! I think being a new walker has a large part of this grumpiness as well. I have read as children are starting to develop and learn new big milestones, their minds are just overwhelmed with all the new developments.

I am hoping in another week or so she is used to these new changes. For now, I just play her some Baby Einstein and play with her as much as possible to keep her occupied. Fingers crossed the adjustment period goes quickly for all of us!