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! 

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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…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!

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!

Diaper Rash, Teething, and a Bumped Head…

…what a way to spend the first week at home with the baby! Whew. As I have mentioned…our 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 😉

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.

Babies and Dogs

As the baby comes up on being the big one (NOOOO) I have been posting a lot of pictures of her “playing” with one of our dogs. Let’s be honest, people always love pictures of babies and pets. It also raises the question of: how did you introduce and adjust the dogs to the baby. Let me tell you how we did it!

We have two larger dogs (60 and 70 lbs), Gilly and Rosie. Gilly was adopted from an animal shelter and Rosie is a legit rescued dog. As in, abandoned in the woods and I brought her home. For this reason, Rosie is our lover pup. She wants to be pet and loved on ALL the time. Gilly is very aloof and la-di-da.

I think a misconception is that the adjustment happens immediately. For us, that was not the case. Until the baby started moving I don’t think the dogs cared either way. Well, they did look a little stressed on the days she cried a lot 😉 but that wasn’t often. A lot of the pictures I have are with the baby and Gilly. This is because Rosie usually immediately runs away if the baby comes after her. I think if the baby could pet her, it would be different.

There was one time the baby went to Gilly while she was sleeping and Gilly jumped up and growled. We can neither be mad at Gilly or the baby for this! What we do now is if we see the baby going for either dog we immediately say the dogs name to wake them up and then they decide whether they want to run or not. Rosie gets up and leaves 95% of the time. Gilly will usually hang out and see what’s going to happen.

When the baby is near either of the dogs we try to stay right there with them and pet the dog and reassure them with “good girl, Gilly” and pet them while the baby is crawling on them. Generally, the baby squeals at them, gives them a few pats, and moves on.

We try to make sure once the baby is in bed (or playing) we give the dogs plenty of attention. I have had Gilly for almost 7 years and Rosie about 5.5 years so it’s important for them to not feel forgotten.

Rosie is a licker. It is very bad. We will let her get a few licks in and then usually have to force her to stop. She would lick that baby raw if we let her!

What we did/do is really fairly simple. Both of our dogs do really well with the baby and we have a GREAT and easy baby. If it seems the dogs are irritated with her we simply move her, give her a new toy to play with, and again verbally assure the dog that they did nothing wrong.

I will say, if the dogs are eating or have treats we do not allow the baby anywhere near them. Other than that we really try to let the dogs decide whether they feel like dealing with her. Once the dogs walk away the baby rarely chases them down. She just finds something else to terrorize 😦

I imagine the relationship between the baby and the dogs will change drastically over the years. At this point I just have no idea how! I do believe that Rosie will like her a lot more when she is actually able to pet and play with her!

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!