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. 

Cultural Tour of Japan…Part 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!

An Accidental Stay-at-Home Mom

As most of you know, the military recently relocated us to Japan. We are extremely excited for all the changes that come along with this move. One of the big changes is that I am currently not working. I am applying for jobs and hope to be working soon. Until then, my job is wife and mommy!

For those who are stay-at-home moms and infant childcare givers-you are amazing. After working for the last 14 plus years this is a really big adjustment for me and for our family. The biggest thing I am making sure to do is enjoy this while it lasts. While I have no intentions of staying at home permanently, I know that there are a lot of moms who would love to have this opportunity. I even recall bawling on the way home from picking her up from daycare those first few times. So I know I would have loved to be a stay-at-home mom at one point.

More than anything-I am terrified. Since she was 8 weeks old I haven’t been with her 24/7. Of course I have had her on my own many times. Weekends, days off, etc. The weather is still decent and there is a playground right outside of our building. I am excited to try that out! I may also seek some mom groups. I feel so ridiculous even saying that! I used to think that was so snooty. Moms meeting at the playground to gossip while their children play. Now I realize how important socialization and interaction with other children is. I get the feeling about once a day that my daughter is SO bored with me 🙂 As a mom I want to make sure I am giving her every opportunity to grow and develop as I can. I know she will not get that by sitting at home with just me all day, everyday!

I will, obviously, keep you posted on our mommy/daughter adventures. She has this thing where she crawls in my lap to sit and play. That is the picture below. She brought her little crab and a picture of herself along today. She is waving-that is the blurriness around her hand.

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If any of my stay-at-home moms have some tips-I welcome them!

Fall Baking-Pumpkin Bread!

I know I may get stabbed for this, but I just do not get the pumpkin craze. I really don’t. But before you come after me with pitchforks…there are two things pumpkin that I like. Pumpkin Spice coffee creamer and my husband’s grandmothers pumpkin bread! I, unfortunately, never had the honor of meeting his grandma but I LOVE that I get that opportunity to continue to share her memory by making my family one of her beloved recipes. Note: I made sure to clear it with my sister-in-law before sharing this 🙂

For my baking handicapped friends, do not fear! This is a very simple recipe! I do not even have dishes and bowls and I managed! That leads me into-don’t laugh at my pot and plastic fork! I was determined to make this bread today! I improvised admirably, if I do say so myself!

My daughter was just not having a nap today but was also managing to entertain herself quite well so I thought this chilly day would pair well with this beloved family favorite!

See below for the full ingredients list and instruction.

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This is what the first step will look like.        This will be when all ingredients are combined.

The consistency of this batter is no where close to a “normal” bread dough so do not freak out! To me it seems somewhere in between a cake and brownie batter consistency and will be somewhat sticky.

Since we do not have our dishes/pots/pans yet I bought an aluminum loaf pan. They were pretty small and I did not want to mess up my bread so I used two to be on the safe side. In the end: they made more like mini loaves. If you have a normal bread pan you will only need one!

What I used:                                                                  Divided into two.

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So here is where it may get tricky for some of my non-baking friends…baking time. Please watch closely. It is going to depend completely on your loaf pan size and oven! The recipe itself says 1 hour and 15 minutes. For these two mini pans it only took 27 minutes. In my old oven I believe it was around 65 minutes. I would always set a timer to 50 minutes and then check every 5 minutes. The last thing you want is to ruin your bread by over baking. Today I set the timer for 45 minutes but went off the ole “when you start to smell it, it is almost done” rule and sure enough…it was done!

Finished product: I should note, my husband has not tasted it yet…but myself and the baby did and we approve!

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Recipe and Directions:

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 1/2 cup sugar

1 cup pumpkin

1/2 cup oil (I used good ole vegetable oil)

1/4 cup water

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cloves

1/4 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

1 2/3 cup flour

Mix eggs, sugar, and pumpkin. Blend in oil and water. Add all remaining ingredients. Bake in greased loaf pan at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Week One, down!

In a few hours we will have been in Japan for a whole week! I think we are pretty adjusted on sleep. Last night I went to bed around 10pm and was awake around 545am. We never sleep much past 6am since the baby was born so that seems pretty good!

We went to a Yen store yesterday and it was pretty much the greatest thing ever! The one we went to was called Daiso. The American equivalent to this is a Dollar store, so think Dollar General or Family Dollar. So family, be ready for tons of goodies from there! We loaded up on junk food to see what types of Japanese goodies are our favorite! The one thing I noticed right away is the “sweets” here are nothing like the sweets in America. Although I still consider them “junk” food, the sugar content is nothing like I am used to.

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One thing that struck me as comical was in the parking lot of the Yen store was a lottery machine. When we were parking I could here something and I was thinking “what is that?” Well I look up and it is a little lottery machine in a vestibule with speakers on the outside blaring a voice!

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I have talked a lot about driving so far. Below is a picture of the first little intersection off the base. The red triangle is the stop sign. You can see on the pavement the white diamonds. In the states those indicate a carpool lane. Here those mean that a pedestrian crosswalk is coming up.

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Another thing (I don’t have a picture…yet!) that is very common here are vending machines in the middle of nowhere. There could be absolutely NOTHING but there is a drink machine! There is one right outside our door in our building…they have this coffee I LOVE. It is called Georgia. The vending machines seem similarly priced as American, I think. We did not really have iced coffee in cans in vending machines there! But the ones here cost the equivalent of $1.30.

With baby girl about to turn 1 (AHHHH) I will be leaning more towards posts on mommy hood here soon. I also have a few other things I want to blog about. One is I am doing Scarlett’s one year photos and smash cake myself so I will be writing about that and showing you how simple it is to do some of these things on your own. I know getting pictures taken and ordering cakes can be an expensive cost…that we do not always have! Stay tuned on how to save some of that money!

Our First Eating Adventures in Japan

I will start by saying…for those of you who do not know me well…I hate not knowing what is going on. I also do not like feeling like I am offending someone. I have definitely felt both of those ways within the last two days! By saying it is overwhelming to be in a country that you do not know the language or the common courtesies is an understatement. For this, I am thankful for my husband. He is not gun shy and will jump right in and figure things out. I am so scared of accidentally offending someone that I just freeze and would rather leave than feel awkward.

The first place we went to yesterday was one of those sushi places where it goes around the room and you just grab what you want off of the conveyer belt as it goes by you. The excitement in my husbands eyes was so hilarious. He had been talking about one of these places since we found out we were coming to Japan. Me-I was terrified. Haha. Thankfully he figured out how to change our electronic menu to English. He took over and just ordered us a bunch of stuff. When you order from the menu it comes out to you on a little alligator. It was adorable. The picture below shows the fries we ordered for Scarlett on the alligator.

We ordered a kids meal for Scarlett and it came with real (raw) sushi, one chicken nugget, a few french fries and some juice.

Today the place we went I enjoyed MUCH more. I was still a little overwhelmed and this was because Scarlett was due a bottle and trying to ask for hot water when no one speaks English is not fun! They had an English menu, also. From the very few places I have seen, it looks like most of the places that are right here around the base in Misawa City have English as well. Which is very helpful! The place we went is called Sukiya. It is a Japanese “fast food” place and it was so delicious! We both had a beef bowl. They also have curry, eel, and a dish called gyudon-which is beef and onions. I want to try that the next time we go. Although we have not went to a “real” restaurant yet, the one thing I have noticed is there were buttons at both places at the individual tables to “call” when we were ready to order/pay/needed assistance.

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The one thing that has been told to us repeatedly is that it is considered rude to tip here. It is an insult to the service they have provided you. This will save Nick and I SO much money. We were already very good at tipping and had become even better since having a child. That kid destroys the table everywhere we go!

I am not only excited to keep visiting the local places but also very excited to learn how to cook a few Japanese dishes!