I’ve dedicated the past year to reading only books that I believed would inspire and motivate me to be the best version of myself. A few of these books pushed me to take a chance on my dreams and enroll in a Winemaking Certificate Program. Some of the other books have motivated me to run harder and faster and embrace my body as an aging athlete. I even set a goal to qualify for Boston this year! I have learned I have the potential for so much more from this past year’s reading list. If you are stuck at home and in need of motivation check out my list below!
I watched from the kitchen as my daughter wound herself up into a big spin and then flung her arm and the toy barn she was wielding into her younger brother’s gut. He doubled over instantly and I knew the tears were close behind. As a reflex, I hollered, “Say sorry to your brother!” trying to smooth the situation over without having to completely stop making dinner. My daughter’s response left me speechless and at a loss for what to do next. She hollered back at me “It wasn’t an accident!” “I can’t say sorry ‘cus I did it on purpose!”
I hadn’t thought about apologies that way. I used to always apologize because I believe they make people feel better. I’m definitely torn in this situation because my whole thing this past year has been about self-improvement and learning to not be sorry for my actions. I blame Rachel Hollis for “Girl, Stop Apologizing” #sorrynotsorry. I’m not sure my daughter really got the same message Rach was sending, but her declaration of not being able to apologize because she did it on purpose was a concept I wasn’t prepared to hear. Don’t get me wrong, as a parent I was also a little terrified. My daughter just hauled-off and hit my son in the gut and deep down I want her to feel remorse for it and apologize.
After stewing on this for a while and conferring with my husband (a man who has never once apologized for anything and admitted that he had probably also said something similar to his mother when he was a child) I realized that maybe saying sorry is not a universal bandage for confrontation. They need to know that there are consequences for their actions and getting out of those consequences with a heartless “I’m sorry” is not the kind of mindset I want to instill in them.
So for now, I’m resisting the urge to force an “I’m sorry” every time there is an incident and instead try talking about how our actions affect other people and how that might make them feel. We are also coming up with other ways to express our emotions instead of lashing out at each other. I’m hoping I’m not raising tiny psychopaths, but you never really can be sure.
What is your stance on “I’m sorry” when it comes to your kids? Do you and your SO agree on responses and solutions? Leave a comment below on your thoughts and experiences.
Ohana means family
Our family has spent the last four weeks on the beautiful island of O’ahu. I wish I could tell you it was for a much needed vacation and family time (in a lot of ways it was), but in reality it was because we had to be medically evacuated to the hospital here. I could write several blog posts about the inadequacy of the current healthcare provided to military families stationed overseas, but I’d rather focus on the amazing treatment I finally received and the amazing ohana I found on the island.
As Claire mentioned in her last post, we are both leaders in a running club called Stroller Warriors and lucky for me there are 48 chapters all over the world, including 3 on O’ahu! Before even arriving I had several wonderful ladies reach out to me to see what they could do to help. Traveling 4,000 miles away from home for surgery with two toddlers felt a little bit less daunting knowing I had a group of like-minded, supportive military moms to lean on if needed.
I had several pre-op appointments the week before my surgery and after dragging our kids through a full day of appointments, my husband and I decided it would be easiest if he dropped me off and spent the day with the kids back at the hotel instead of waiting at the hospital the day of my surgery. However, to make things a little tricky, we only have Japanese cell phone numbers (which actually work in Hawaii thanks to Sprint) and even though the hospital assured us they could call our number they proved several times that week that none of their staff actually knew the right number to dial. So I reached out to one of the awesome ladies from Stroller Warriors, Arlene. I just wanted to get her number so the hospital could call her and she could message Josh to come get me when it was all over. In my head, the surgery was going to go easy peasy and I was going to walk out as easily as I walked in.
Well, I was completely blown away when Arlene not only offered her phone number, but also told me she’d come sit with me at the hospital. I’d like to remind you right now that Arlene and I have never met. She is absolutely amazing for doing this! She showed up right after I’d changed into the super flattering hospital gown and no-skid socks. We instantly became good friends and every time a doctor or nurse came to talk to me they were shocked to learn my non-medical attendant/new best bud was a stranger to me 10 minutes prior. I cannot thank Arlene enough for not only keeping me company before surgery, but also for spending the entire day waiting for me to get out of surgery, talking to the doctor and relaying detailed messages back to my husband all day long. She even gave me a ride back to the hotel so my husband didn’t have to load the kids up to come get me. She is a saint!
I guess now is a good time to fill you in on why I had surgery and how I am doing. I was medically evacuated to Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii to see an ENT specialist and have a cholesteatoma surgically removed from behind my middle ear area. For reference, the cholesteatoma was found on a CT scan taken 10 months earlier. This is how long it took me to get proper medical care all because I am stationed overseas. Fast forward to my surgery, the amazing Dr. Chen was able to skillfully remove the non cancerous cholesteatoma, but unfortunately had to do an ossicular chain reconstruction, removing one of my three middle ear bones because the mass had caused deterioration from not being removed sooner. (See brief explanation below on how ears hear, thanks to Netflix’s Ask the Storybots Season 2, Episode 4, I am basically an Otolaryngologist as well.) I will have to have another surgery in 9 months to complete the reconstruction once I have recovered and we confirm the cholesteatoma is gone for good. So for now I have even more profound hearing loss than I had before surgery (-60 decibels, almost deafness) in my left hear, but have been reassured my hearing will be as good as new after my next surgery. When you see me, please talk loudly and forgive me if I miss what you are saying, I promise I am not ignoring you…or am I?
The three parts of the ear all help you hear. The outer ear funnels sound to the ear drum. This makes the eardrum vibrate. The three tiny bones in the middle ear (the malleus, incus, and stapes) pass the vibrations to the inner ear. There, the vibrations become electrical signals. These signals travel along the auditory (hearing) nerve to the brain.
Having your ear sliced open and your temporal bone drilled into is a little bit harder to recover from than I thought…I actually thought I’d be operated on through my ear canal and back to normal hearing and activities within a few days….because that is what I was originally told. Luckily I was given a “sick note” or extended stay in Hawaii for an extra 3 weeks. My family let me rest as much as two toddlers could, but in all seriousness we were itching to get out and explore so I popped the recommended dosage of Tylenol and we crammed as much as we could into our recovery/vacation.
I could not ask for a more beautiful place to be on sick leave. The weather was absolutely fantastic, it did not disappoint. We basically drove all over the island, went to a handful of beaches, did all the kid friendly activities, hiked several different trails and ate ALL THE FOOD. And I’m talking ALL of the food. I actually think I’ve gained 10 pounds from all of the American food I’ve stuffed into my body. I don’t even feel a little bit bad about it because it was so delicious and I won’t have any for a long time.
Coincidentally, one of my cousins was working in Hawaii while we were here and we were able to have lunch several times and catch up with him and his wife. They got to meet my son for the first time, something only a few of my family members have had the opportunity to do considering he was born in Japan.
This trip was the best “family” vacation I have ever been on in terms of getting to spend quality time with family: blood family and ohana. In Hawaii an ohana, meaning family, is special. The people within it are bound together by genuine compassion, culture, support, loyalty, and love for each other. The experiences I had here were exactly that. I already told you about one of my new found sole sisters, Arlene, from my Stroller Warriors ohana, but I was also able to meet a few other amazing SW ladies as we spectated one weekend at the HURT100.
The feeling of ohana didn’t stop there. I also met another social media friend and fellow contributor for Military Moms Blog, Rachel. We connected over dinner and chatted through a beautiful sunset.
Once I was cleared to resume exercise I joined up with the local Saturday wear blue run group. There I met some loyal wear blue runners and enjoyed a meaningful run with them. (Embarrassingly I did not pack a single blue item, but I showed up anyways)
To become a part of someone’s ohana is a great honor and I am beyond honored to be a part of these groups. This military life can be rough sometimes, especially when you undergo something like a medical evacuation to the other side of the world, but the people you meet along the way who become a part of your family or ohana make this life worth doing. I’m feeling very lucky to have been in Hawaii and am already dreading the long flight back to Japan.
Stay tuned for my next post about traveling with two toddlers, one of which screams the entire time, and the wonderful things we did in O’ahu.
Hiroshima Osorakan Trail: DNF
One of my main goals since moving to Japan is to get back into ultra running. The landscape is beautiful here and I have a lot of time to train. Let me take that back. I have a lot of time to train on the roads while pushing my double stroller. Having two small children makes it difficult to duck off into the woods every morning for a trail run. Nonetheless, I have spent the last six months preparing for my first Japanese trail ultra marathon. I ran a lot of miles to prepare for this day and felt confident I would do well. A DNF (Did Not Finish) was definitely not in my plans.
DIY Derby Hat
Did you just get invited to a Kentucky Derby Party, but have no clue what to wear? A big hat is a must or a bow tie if you are a fella. Don’t have a big hat? No problem! Here is a quick tutorial on how to make a fabulously simple KY derby hat to don at your party.
What’s the big deal with these hats anyways?
Originally women wore big, extravagant hats to declare their social status. Today women (and even men) carry out the tradition of Derby hats by making their own unique hat and adding their own twist. A lot of people view the elaborate hats as good luck charms.
Here is a simple DIY for making a fabulous Derby Hat:
Step 1: find a straw hat
Step 2: find your hot glue gun
Step 3: find a bunch of stuff to glue on hat. (For example: roses, other flowers, plastic horses, tissue paper pom-poms, etc)
Step 4: glue items to hat
Step 5: look fabulous wearing your new hat
I found this hat and paper flowers at Daiso which is like a dollar store here in Japan.
I opened the flowers and poked the wires through the straw hat to attach, then reinforced with hot glue.
Check me out! Now I’m ready for Derby!
Follow us on Instagram for more easy and fabulous Derby Party ideas!
Valentine’s Day Crafts
I have kind of ignored that Valentine’s Day is this week. My kids aren’t in school so I don’t have to worry about making Valentines for an entire class or this nonsense of decorating a box for them to receive cards in that I see other parents on Facebook fretting over. What happened to just collecting your cards in a brown paper bag? I feel pretty lucky that my kids don’t really know or understand holidays yet so if I want to pretend like one doesn’t exist they can’t call me out on it.
I’ve never really understood Valentine’s Day and the one time a boy did try to ask me to be his Valentine, I ratted him out to the teacher. Needless to say, no one ever tried to give me chocolates in my desk at school ever again. What can I say, I’m hard to love.
I wasn’t going to do anything to celebrate this year until I stumbled upon some super easy craft ideas that would be fun for my kids and keep them busy for at least a few minutes. So if you are feeling lazy and unmotivated like me, here is a list of ideas to get you and your kids in the Valentine’s Day spirit. Make some crafts and help your kids spread the love!
1) Free Geeky, Math-y, Science-y Printable Princess Awesome Valentines!
These Valentines are fun for boys and girls. All you need to do is print the sheet and dump out the box of crayons! #easypeasy
We watch a lot of SigningTime videos in our house and practice sign language regularly, so these hand crafts are meaningful and cute! #doublewin
3) DIY Crayon Heart Valentines
These look super fun and a great way to recycle all the crayons my little one has snapped in half! #MilMBlog
I am a huge advocate for STEM education in my children’s lives. Research has shown that building a foundation for these skills early helps children to be successful in school and in life. I remember attending my first science camp in middle school and falling madly in love with research. This spurred me on to pursue a degree in chemistry. I naturally want my kids to also find science as interesting and exciting as I do. I try to nurture early STEM concepts and skills through daily routines and play. I leave the music and art nurturing to their father. He is more adept in the fine arts than I am.
“STEM” stands for science, technology, engineering and math. STEM
can refer to the subjects individually or one or more working together,
but can also mean a way of doing things that includes solving problems,
asking questions, and exploring the world around us.
As a result of some napping miracle, both of my babies fell asleep at the same time and I was able to look over these 4 amazingly-easy, family friendly craft books. I even made it halfway through a project before I heard that sweet sound of babies stirring in their cribs. I am not a crafty person by any means. I obsess over pins I find on Pinterest and dream about the day I can complete all the cute projects on my boards. I feel like there is a lot of pressure for moms, especially SAHMs to be crafty…as if we don’t have anything else to do. I always give it my best shot, but I’m definitely more of an Amazon Prime Mom than a Pinterest Mom. These books definitely make it easy for me to be sneakily crafty and add a little flare to some everyday things, like water bottles, name tags, training plans, etc.
We have several new and expecting moms following our blog so we want to share with y’all our list of must-have items. These are the kinds of things that you’ll want around as soon as baby gets here. Items 1-8 are Mallory’s must-haves and 9-16 are Claire’s.
1. Baby carrier – I actually have three baby carriers; we like to baby wear in this family! My first child had reflux so it was necessary to wear her constantly to keep her happy and my hands free. The Boba wrap is perfect for keeping baby snug and wrapped tightly to your body. My husband and I prefer to use this carrier if we are wearing the baby around the house. I don’t feel as comfortable going out with this one on because it is not very supportive.
The Baby Bjorn baby carrier is great for going out. It’s lightweight, easy to put on and supports the baby close to your chest. We recently bought and fell in love with the Ergobaby 3-position carrier for our toddler because you can wear the child on your back like a backpack. If you are only going to get one carrier, I’d highly recommend this one because it will meet all your needs.
2. Bob jogging stroller – if you like jogging or doing anything outdoorsy, I highly recommend paying the big bucks and investing in a Bob jogging stroller. They are amazing and worth every penny!
3. Oh joy! Diaper bag from Target – this diaper bag is a backpack, has stroller straps, and zips closed. The bag has several pockets and is very deep for lots of storage. I love it and get compliments everywhere I go! Claire’s had 2 diaper bags and doesn’t love either of them. She’s going to go buy one of these bags this week.
4. Love to Dream swaddle UP – this swaddle is fabulous and so easy to use. You just put the baby inside and zip it up. One problem I always had using a blanket to swaddle was that my LO would struggle until her arms were free. With the Love to Dream swaddle the arms are up in a patented wing position. My husband calls it a wingman suit for this reason. The babies look like skydivers. The 50/50 swaddle has zip-off wings to help baby transition out of swaddles. I unzipped one wing at first then after a few nights took off both wings. This made the whole process easy for mom and baby.
5. Rock n Play Sleeper – these are the best to have in every room (just kidding I just pick mine up and move it into which ever room I am in). Great for bedtime, nap time, daytime and playtime. For me, it comes in handy after nursing. I can lay my LO down without worrying he will spit up because it is the perfect angle.
6. Amazon Subscribe and Save – first off, if you don’t already have Amazon Prime membership please crawl out of your cave and get with the program. Amazon saves me so much time and effort. Subscribe and Save is even more amazing because I can create a monthly list of items that will be automatically delivered to me by a certain day. It even works in Japan! This is how I get all our diapers, wipes, diaper trash bags, and most importantly our K-pods.
7. Nose Frida – the grossest, most effective apparatus for extracting snot from a stopped up baby nose. It is somewhat satisfying watching all the baby’s snot fill the tube.
8. Tinybeans – best app to keep your family updated with daily photos without sharing your little ones face and life story with the whole World Wide Web. Read Claire’s article to find out why we love Tinybeans so much.
9. Pack n Play w/ Bassinet feature – This is one of the essentials to have ready when baby comes home from the hospital. You’re gonna want your newborn within arm’s reach the first few months, so setting up the pack n play right next to your bed is going to help you catch some z’s. When baby transitions to the crib, you can still keep your pack n play around to contain baby around the house and on trips.
10. My Brestfriend Pillow – This nursing pillow was recommended by the lactation consultant at our hospital. It buckles around your body for extra support and convenience. My love for it has grown since we’ve moved into a two-story house. I just clip it around my waist which gives me two free hands to carry baby (or extra snacks and water) to wherever I want to nurse him.
11. Keekaroo changer – while I was pregnant, I was learning the parenting ropes from a friend and this is the changer she had. At first I was put off by the price, but because you don’t need changing pad covers, it’s basically a wash. Just wipe down and done. I was satisfied by this purchase in the first week we brought our son home: I put him on the changer, took off his diaper and suddenly the Keekaroo was flooded with meconium! We kept trying to put on new diapers, but it just kept coming!
12. Two-in-One Swing – In my experience I’ve found two camps of moms: The Rock n Players or The Swingers. There are so many (what I call) “baby receptacles,” on the market it’s hard to know what to choose. You’ll definitely want something outside of the bedroom for setting down and soothing your babe. What works best for you is largely dependent on your baby’s personality, but for me, the practicality of the Graco 2-in-1 Swing won me over to the Swinger side. I loved that the swing seat is also a bouncer that can be removed and moved around the house. Such a space-saver!
13. Bamboobies – reusable nursing pads! Yes! I will say, in the beginning, I still ended up using disposable nursing pads because I leaked so much that the reusable pads would just stay wet which is not good for your nips, but once my supply regulates, the reusable are all I really need.
14. White Noise machine – this was one of my “live and learn” purchases. As my first-born got older and more sensitive to his environment, sometimes the smallest creak would startle him awake. I finally got a white noise machine to drown out any startling noises. Today I have one in each of my boys’ rooms which has been especially useful for drowning out the incessant barking of the dogs.
15. Madela hand pump – I don’t pump often, but when I do it’s usually in the middle of the night to relieve engorgement. Getting a good double electric pump is great, but if you’re looking to avoid the whole production of getting connected to your electric pump, a hand pump can be used from the quiet comfort of your bed. Also great for throwing in your diaper bag or suitcase if you’re traveling.
16. Vibrating teether – Teething sucks. I have all kinds of teethers, but found that nothing provided sweet relief quite like the vibrating ones. The only problem with them is that little babies have trouble biting down on them to get them to vibrate. The one linked helped me solve that problem. I can let baby chew on one side and I’m still able to hold down the other side to keep it vibrating.
Some husbands are very supportive and hands-on during their wife’s delivery. Not mine. Mine sits back in the shadows taking notes so he can remind me later of how much I cried. He is very loving in that way (hopefully you can read the sarcasm). You may recall his “smell log” from our first child’s birth. Well, he did not disappoint with his thorough account of the events leading up to our son’s birth in the local Japanese hospital.
We arrive at the hospital several miles out of town in a run down area. It is Saturday night yet there are few signs of the local population, save those hurrying back to their homes. We wander out of the gravel parking lot down the street until we see a dimly lit alleyway, now to select the correct door. Unable to read kanji we continue checking each door until one pulls open. With it comes the yellow glow of old GE light bulbs and the smell of Florida. Not the salt sea air of spring break but the musky oder of a retirement barely keeping the tenant afloat. There are racks of shoes to the left just inside the entryway, someone has been using the facility.
We step hesitantly, quietly, inching down the hall, the only sounds our own footsteps. The exit signs tell us we’ve gone the wrong way as we explore the first floor. A set of stairs eventually appears, but was it there the first time we passed down the corridor? As we climb up the stairwell there is a faint unidentifiable sound ahead. Cresting the top we look left, then right. The second floor much like the first appeared vacant of any life, only the old cream tile floors, walls of peeling paper and medical equipment long abandoned. We continued our search past the check-in hub, which was devoid of life. Then the noise again, this time closer. As I turned to confront it I only catch a glimpse of a white spectre scurry, or did it float? across the hall from one doorway to another. It was too quick to make out its true form. I rushed to follow, hoping for answers to this mysterious haven. But as I made the turn into the room with the strange bed, giant clock with its gliding hands, and foreign machines I am confronted head on with the creature, “Morris!” it exclaimed bursting from the shadows. Her…Her! accent, was thick…
She was no ghoul, but the on call nurse. Her actions were quick and severe. I was quickly backed into a corner, isolated, as she dashed off, quickly returning with a larger male. Still in disbelief at our discovery I am unable to protest as they tear away my wife to strap her to that strange bed. It is obvious the medical equipment still functions, though archaic it may be. While they focus on her I am able to visually investigate my surroundings. Every item in the room unmistakably has a place, though there are so many instruments in such a small space, that the look is very chaotic. The most disturbing, however, are the three metal pots, each about the size of a human head, with lids that have been locked shut.
After strapping my wife to the bed they leave and shut the door. It is very hot in here and we brought no water and there does not appear to be a tap in our confines. I don’t understand why one of us should be restrained, yet I am free to move about. How would they react if they found I had loosed her bonds? I don’t know how many others are here with us, either as “guests” or those who are holding us here. All I can hear now is the female milling about outside of our room, there has been no indication of the male for sometime. What do they want from us? And why are they heating our room? It is so hot!
They must have gotten what they wanted, they are moving us to another space. The first room must have been some sort of processing facility. This place looks more permanent, there is a bed, and an unusual looking stool. Neither are comfortable, however, when I lie on the bed exhaustion takes hold.
My wife wakes me frantically, they will begin the extraction on her now. We groggily move back to the original room, they’ve brought more of their people. All of them wearing pink smocks circa 1960s America, and masks to hide their identities, though I wonder how many have made it out the exit and back to safety. They are frantically chittering away like a swarm of insects working on a hive, strapping my wife back down to the table.
After half an hour of prodding and examining my wife their elder appeared before us. At this point, through tears and gasps for breath she begs him to end her pain no matter the cost. With a grin he speaks in his guttural language, in what I can only assume was a pleasant surprise that his subject broke so quickly. The chittering from the elder’s subordinates picks up in a deafening crescendo as three of the pink clad females grab my wife by the arms and legs. They contorted her until her spine was exposed and vulnerable. The elder then brought out an immense needle, plunging menacingly as her pain intensifies. I don’t know if that’s when they planted the darkness in her, but it certainly was the beginning of our hell to come.
We had quite the experience. It would be generous to call the place I delivered at a hospital. It was as empty and sweltering hot as my husband described. The OB has been in practice there for nearly 50 years and it definitely showed. Their methods were effective, but they were also very crude.
One of the main reasons I chose this particular place was that they offered an epidural, which is not common in Japan. I am not ashamed to admit that I do not handle pain well. Once I was taken to the delivery room the 200-year old doctor arrived to administer the epidural. He had lots of trouble placing the line, which resulted in several painful punctures along my spine and tenderness around the site for several weeks. It was all for nothing because the dosage was so low it had zero effect on me.
That birth was the most painful experience of my entire life. I wouldn’t wish that kind of pain on my worst enemy. I was crying, kicking, and begging for it to be over. I thought at one point that I might actually die, especially when the attendant had clearly also had enough and gave me a quick episiotomy, then went elbow-deep inside of me to pull the baby out. There was one nurse beside me the whole time whose only job was to shush me when I got too loud. And not in a kind or nurturing way either. I couldn’t believe it. We were absolutely the only people in this “hospital,” why did I have to be quiet? First, they botch giving me an epidural and then they tell me I’m being too loud as I writhe in pain. WTF?
I have since learned that the Japanese do not believe in pain-relieving drugs during childbirth, or after for that matter. This explains the doctor’s inexperience administering epidurals. It is believed that a mother’s ability to endure the pain demonstrates her strength and responsibility and not experiencing pain hinders the bond between mother and child. Japanese women are also expected to experience labor and birth quietly, explaining why the nurse kept trying to silence me. I have a whole new respect for these women, but I absolutely do not believe that my inability to suffer silently has any bearing on my capabilities as a mother.