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 ūüėĀ. Stay in love my friends ‚̧ԳŹ. 

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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‚Ķand then a milestone hits and I’m like oh yea‚ĶI was writing about this stuff‚Ķughhh.

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‚Ķshe 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‚Ķbut we have a one year old ūüė¶

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…

‚Ķbut 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‚ĶWhen 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!

 

Cultural Tour of Japan‚ĶPart II

Last I left you we were heading out of Misawa to Hachinohe to visit a temple and go to the fish market. The guides kept calling it a temple but from what I have read it was actually a Shinto shrine. I’m not super familiar with these religions so I can’t be for sure.

So when we got there we were taught how to complete a purification ritual prior to entering the shrine. In order to enter the shrine this is a requirement. However, they did express if this were to go against your religious beliefs you did not HAVE to participate. Below you will see a picture of Nick doing the purification. What happens is you pick up the wooden ladle shown with your right hand. You fill it with water. The water was FREEZING by the way! You will then rinse your left hand, switch hands, rinse your right hand, switch hands, and rinse your mouth from the ladle. You will then rinse the hand that you used to rinse your mouth with.Do not drink directly from the ladle! At this time you will take the ladle in both hands and slowly raise it in front of you emptying the remaining water from it.

At this point you are allowed to enter the shrine. Below is the entrance to the shrine. It is called the Torii. It is only appropriate to enter a shrine through the Torii. A Torii is a wooden structure and will usually be painted orange and black. You will see in the pictures above and below that there are white pieces of paper hanging from a rope on the structure. These are there to mark the entrance of something sacred.

image4-2

Once inside you can throw a coin into the offering box and have a short prayer. We did not participate in this particular portion. The way shrines are different from the traditional church I am used to is pretty extensive. A shrine is not a place where worship or services take place. I equate it to much more like meditation. The inside of the shrine is typically where the sacred object is located. We were not authorized to enter. We did see a few young babies there. Newborns will often be taken to the shrine at a few weeks old for a blessing. They said sometimes weddings will also take place there.

One of the other things that you can often do at the shrine is receive your fortune. You can pay anywhere from 1-5$ to get your fortune. In the picture below you will see that you can also leave the fortune behind by hanging it up on the teepee like structures. The picture on the right is called a Kappa. A Kappa is a Japanese folklore. The green salamander is meant to scare children from swimming in the river and lakes. It is said the Kappa will eat them. Sometimes offerings are even given to the Kappa’s for protection.

The last place we went was the fish market. We bought some more delicious goodies from the fish market. We probably spent $50 alone on pastries ūüôā One whole side was the market and then there were individual stores within as well. It looked like a lot of the local business men and women went here for lunch. We saw a lot of eel and octopus. Octopus is a huge thing here. You will not hear about me partaking in that! The best sweet thing I have had in Japan so far was here. It was like a fried croissant with custard inside. I do not know what it was but I intend to figure out how to make it! It is also apple season here and the one picture below is of the giant apples. There were some that were the size of the baby’s head! Like I said before, it was a great day. It ended with the little girl passing out at the very end and one of the cookies I got had a sweet little message on it ūüôā Stay tuned for more adventures soon. I will say-it seems like we got here right at the end of all the festivals so I do not think I will be able to write about those. Instead we will get to tell you about all of our snow adventures!

 

 

Cultural Tour of Japan‚ĶPart I

So today the base sent us on a free little tour of the local area here in Japan. I really had no idea what to expect but it was actually really awesome and informative. It was so informative that I am going to split it up into two blogs!

We started with a short briefing. During the briefing we were told about a lot of the common courtesies of the area. We were told about not tipping wait staff.  The one thing that was discussed was an Onsen. A Japanese Onsen is a hot bath. It seems weird at first. Why in the world would you go to a public place to get undressed in front of strangers to take a bath? I can do this privately at home! After they described it, it made more sense. The way I interpreted it was more like what we would call a sauna or spa in America. It is meant to just be a relaxing and soothing soak in hot water. Prior to entering an Onsen you wash yourself off (you take your own soap and towels). The one thing that kind of surprised me was the briefer said before going always ask if they allow tattoos. The reason for this is because the Japanese often associate tattoos with members who have been in jail or in the mafia. Tattoos are not considered a popular fashion trend like they are in other parts of the world.

The next place we went was to the Misawa International Center. I am a little uncertain about this particular stop. We honestly did not cover anything there that we did not already know. One thing that we did go over was that the center offers a lot of classes. A few that I am particularly interested in are the language classes and cooking classes. I would LOVE to cook some Yakisoba and Beef and Noodle Bowls.

After the center we went to the Misawa Train Station to learn about purchasing tickets. The reason this is important is because one of the places people want to often visit from where we are located is Tokyo. I asked the question about other options (outside of the train) and was very surprised at the answer. To drive on your own from where we are located is over 8 hours and about $250 in tolls (that’s excluding gas). A plane ticket can range anywhere from $300-600. The “bullet train” known as the Shinkansen, goes about 200 MPH and will get you to Tokyo in under 3 hours. A round trip ticket, per person, on the Shinkansen is around $300. We do not have direct access to the Shinkansen from Misawa but we can take the train from Misawa to Hachinoe and get on the Shinkansen from there. The cheaper option is the “midnight” bus. This is a nighttime bus ride that takes about 12 hours but only cost $50. One thing that hit me while at the train station is the whole country uses a 24 hour clock.

The last place we stopped at in Misawa was the Veedol. To me this was a cross between a flea market, a farmers market, and an indoor strip mall. We had lunch here and bought some DELICIOUS pastries. Again, the sweets in Japan are very different from America. They are not as sweet. Many times the “foundation” of the sweets remind me of a shortbread or butter cookie. Very simple but not super sweet.

For lunch we ordered a value deal of Yakisoba and fried chicken and it was very delicious!

At this point we left Misawa and headed to Hachinohe to the temple and fish market. I’m going to end this particular post here. Keep an eye out for part II more tomorrow!

Diaper Rash, Teething, and a Bumped Head…

‚Ķwhat a way to spend the first week at home with the baby! Whew. As I have mentioned‚Ķour baby is a pro sleeper. 11-12 hours a night without waking up. Well, I think all of that finally found a way to be a negative. Yesterday morning I went to change the baby when we first woke up. Well at 545am I do not turn on too many lights in the house but I could tell she had pooped. What a way to wake up, right? That is a lot to handle before coffee ūüėČ

Well when I went to wipe her she cried out in pain. The day before she had pooped three times and started getting a little red on her bottom so I had been using rash cream throughout the day but didn’t think much else about it. I think she must have went to the bathroom shortly after we had put her down because it was pretty dried up. I think that is what caused the rash. Well I got her cleaned up but she cried the whole time. It was SO red down there! I can say that was one of the hardest things I have done since being a mom. Inflicting pain on your child is in no way fun!

I monitored it throughout the day and when she would pee I would just dab her dry and used cream but she still cried in pain each time. Well the dreaded poop came. Nick had got home by this time and he sat at the top of her head while I cleaned her up as gently as possibly. Then we noticed the rash was bleeding and immediately made her an appointment to see the doctor.

In the meantime I did what every first time mom does-I googled. Many results came up. What we decided to do was let her soak in a bath in warm water. After that I let her air out for about 30 minutes or so. I then put A+D cream on her and then put baby powder over that. This morning it was SO much better. We still kept the doctors appointment though just to verify no infection was present. There was no infection! The doctor recommended using neosporin, a lot of air dry time, and no wipes. If she pees just let it air out and if she poops just use a wet cloth to clean her up. The doctor also took a look in her mouth and saw her 9th tooth popping through and swollen gums around a few others. She said teething can often cause some diarrhea which then leads to diaper rash.

To top off the night…she managed to knock herself over the head. Her walker is packed up and she was pushing her stroller around like it was a walker and it fell down on her right eye. She has a little bruise now. At first I thought she landed on the back of her head and I was so freaked out.

We did end the night on a good note, though! I was washing her bottles and I hear something and I turned around and she walked to me from the other room! She has only walked back and forth between the two of us previously so this was a big deal! So much excitement, so little time.