My New Camera

So, I finally got my Christmas present last night.

After doing a lot of research, thinking, and much discussion, I decided to get the Canon t3i. It’s the second newest in the Canon Rebel series. Why not get the t4i? After reading a lot of reviews, it appears the only reason to spend the extra $300 was for the video aspect of the camera. Since I am not buying a camera for video (although the video option is a nice addition), I decided to save the extra money and put it towards a new lens. After all, it’s really the lens that is the most important part, right? The camera body is secondary. (kind of…) 🙂

I’m so excited to start playing with it more. I’m moving up from an older Canon Rebel model, so it will be nice having the extra megapixels and other upgrades from my model of 4 years ago. Yay!

Let the fun begin!

Favorite iPhone Apps

We’ve had lots of playdates this week.

Have you ever scheduled a play date at your home not only for the kids’ benefit, but also to ensure that you clean your house? That was me this week. Don’t get me wrong, I love hosting things. But sometimes I just need that extra push to clean our place, and no better incentive than knowing people are coming over! Growing up, I was taught to have things neat and orderly when guests came over.

So, floors were swept and mopped, carpets vacuumed, furniture dusted, bathrooms scrubbed, kitchen Lysol-ed,…

And, of course, having people over means I need to provide a snack. So, cookies were made. Man, this sweet tooth can get out of control sometimes. I blame nursing – it always heightens my sweet tooth.

Moving on.

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I wanted to share my favorite photography apps. Below are my top five that I use on my iPhone:

Instagram – my favorite app used to share pictures of our everyday life. I really like this app because I can set the privacy setting to only those I want to see my pictures.

PostalPix – I use this app to print out my pictures from Instagram. I’ve used other websites through my computer that link directly to Instagram, but PostalPix is right on my phone and really easy to use!

VSCO cam – this is a camera app to take pictures and moderately edit them. You can directly link to social medias to post them. {always a must in my mind!}

Afterglo – another picture taking app like VSCO with cool editing tools. My new favorite.

 Diptic – for when you want to make a collage or post pictures side by side.

Have fun playing around with them! Any awesome apps I’m missing? Please share!

Need. More. Coffee.

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Today is a five-cups-of-coffee type of day. Heck, maybe a whole pot. I’m not usually so dependent on an outside stimulant to wake me up and give me the energy I am greatly lacking, but with our toddler problems we’ve been dealing with, sometimes you just need to call for outside help.

Over the last week or so, we’ve been slapped with a real dose of reality. Our two-year-old has entered the bedtime-cursing-hours. She is refusing to go to sleep in her bed without either Adam or I there to snuggle with her until she drifts off into a peaceful slumber.

Before this past week, I had no idea what exactly parents would hate about the bedtime routine. I thought, what’s so hard about giving them a bath, brushing teeth, reading a few stories, and tucking them into bed?

Well, a week later, I now know. It’s not the routine of the bedtime that parents hate. It’s the feeling of getting that little person into bed, closing the door quietly, tiptoeing down the hall, breathing a sigh of relief and putting your feet up on the couch to get your first real break for the day, only to realize a little shadow followed you out that bedroom with stealth-like skill and it will take hours to put said little person back into bed and finally have them stay there.

I’m not sure what changed Brooklyn. Sure, she didn’t sleep through the night until she was 14 months old. Sure, as a toddler she would wake up every once in a while during the night, crying out for me to come give her some water or find her paci. But she’s never been this difficult before.

I’ve never had a parenting issue that I have felt so helpless in. Adam and I are searching the internet and parenting books on how to deal with this. Spanking isn’t working, holding the door closed so she can’t exit her room isn’t working. Nothing. We’ve tried reasoning with her. We’ve tried sitting on her bed next to her, then five minutes later moving a foot closer to the door, and another foot closer, etc. etc. until we are almost out of the room only to have her pop her head up and ask for snuggles again.

Night lights don’t work. Reassuring her doesn’t work. Promises of snuggles the next morning isn’t working. The only thing that keeps her in that bed is if we stay there until she has fallen asleep and manage to sneak out before she knows it. And, when she wakes up during the night, the whole fiasco starts over again.

I feel backed up against the wall. What is your trick to getting your toddler to stay in their bed and not get out? After the last few nights of hardly any sleep, I am getting desperate. With now two children waking up during the night, I am becoming that mother who {gasp} has bags under her eyes and will soon be unrecognizable to friends and family. I don’t want to become her! Help a mother out.

Race Day

Adam and I ran in the Frostbite half marathon today.

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I had been up a lot during the nights lately with Scarlett, so a well-rested person I would not be for this race. In addition, the past three weeks prior to race day I was not allowed to train, due to a heart issue the doctors were unsure about. With less than 48 hours to the start time, I was unexpectedly cleared to run the race if I chose to. Since this was my race that I signed both Adam and I up for back around Thanksgiving, I immediately started searching for a babysitter and told Adam I was definitely doing this.

This was by far the most unprepared I have felt for a race yet, somewhat physically but mainly mentally. We carb-loaded last night in preparation. I drank lots of water yesterday to make sure I would be well hydrated for the big event. Adam grabbed our packets early this morning and with a start time of 11am (my favorite time, I’ve decided, to start a race) we strolled up to the starting line, reached down to touch our toes a couple times, and joined the throngs of people inching their way onto the course.

While some minor details leading up to this race were not as planned, the biggest surprise for us was the actual race. The race was located on a nearby base and I had no idea how big of a deal this was for the Japanese people. We expected a few hundred people at the starting line, mainly American military members and their families that came out for a fun run on a beautiful day. How wrong we were.

The base was opened up to the local Japanese people. Now, something you may not know: the Japanese people are serious about their running. They run in full matching gear: tops, bottoms, and even matching shoes at times. And they are quick. My dream that I won the race was quickly diminished.

Just to give you an idea of how today’s race went:

First, there was the Zumba. While waiting around to meet up with a friend, music started blaring and I saw a crowd forming very quickly nearby. Then, I began laughing quite hysterically as thousands of Japanese people began to imitate the Zumba moves the instructors were performing on the center stage. Even the by-standers all readily joined in, pumping arms up and down, swinging hips side to side. It was very comical and helped ease the tension of the 13.1 miles ahead of us.

Next, was the line up for the race to begin. This was not a wave start, as is my preferred method for a big race. Instead, everyone stood in a huge group, bunched together. This wouldn’t mean anything, except Japanese people don’t understand personal space. Adam and I were very thankful for our height which allowed us to breathe our own air, since we are a head above every Japanese person there. Thanks, Dad, for passing down your height to me.

As the time ticked down to the start time, we noticed there were no announcements indicating how things were going to begin. Well, if they had made the announcement earlier, all previous announcements made were only in Japanese anyway. Instead of a typical countdown (san-ni-ich), we only heard a gunshot-like noise and off they went! 3 minutes and 45 seconds later, we finally crossed the line and so began our race (and we were standing toward the front. I don’t know how long it took people in the very back to finally cross the starting line.)

And then, there were the costumes. They varied from: Super Mario, Batman and the Joker, a Robot, Big Foot (he does exist!), a gorilla, Superman, a man running with large flash cards saying “Smile”… the list goes on and on. I have never seen so many different costumes and I’ve run in Halloween races before! Very entertaining.

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To say the least, this will be a very memorable race for us. The best part was being able to cross the finish line holding hands with my Love.

Thanks, Adam, for such a great day together! I thoroughly enjoyed running the race with you.
after race*I apologize that all the pictures uploaded very small. I’m too tired right now to go back and try to reformat them. 🙂

Reorganizing

With Christmas just past, and many presents needing a new home, we’ve been going through our old things and deciding what needs to stay and what we don’t use or wear anymore. I always feel refreshed after I purge. If I haven’t worn clothes in the last year or so, I put it in the pile to resell or donate. Brooklyn had some trinkets laying around that she hasn’t played with in months that I threw away or put in the donate pile. I think it’s healthy to go through our stuff a few times a year and ask if we need it, use it, or wear it enough to keep it around. 

I find that with having a child or two, the clutter and piles of unneeded stuff grows drastically. It leaves an unsettled feeling inside me when I see piles of things sitting around that don’t have their own place.

This need of reorganizing is what brought Adam and I to IKEA the other day. Thankfully we live only about 45 minutes away from one. We came back with a few things that were necessary to help keep our apartment organized and a couple splurge items that spruce up our apartment.

DVD Holders: All of our current DVD’s fit in these little white boxes. It’s nice to have them out of sight and the area looking more cohesive. I have them labeled in their own categories: Kids, Sarah’s, Adam’s, Both, and Seasons.

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Toy Chest: LOVE this pattern! It’s the perfect size to fit in our living room but not look too large. All our toys from the living room fit in it {the rest we have in a toy organizer in Brooklyn’s room}.

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Book Shelf: this went in Scarlett’s room. It matches her white crib and changing table and allowed all the extra stuff sitting around to have their own place.

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Decorative pillows (splurged a total of $20 for these!): I really like how they add a little color. Not too much, but enough to look pretty.

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Hopefully I’ll get even more organization done in the next few weeks! Purging things and organizing can be addicting!

Toddler meal:: Breakfast

I don’t know about you, but I always get very excited when I make a meal that my toddler eats. Like most, Brooklyn is a picky eater. I was thrilled when I made this for her and she gobbled it right up! It also helps that it took about 5 minutes to make. Double win!

Ham, Cheese, and Egg sandwich:

1 english muffin, toasted

1 egg, fried

1 slice of ham

1 slice of cheese

Place the english muffin a toaster. Start frying your egg on the stove. Once the english muffin is toasted, set on a plate and place the slice of ham on one side, and the slice of cheese on the other.

Once the egg is done, place on the sandwich and put them together, completing the sandwich.

Pair with a sippy cup of OJ (I always do half water/half juice) and you have a happy toddler!

*I apologize about the picture quality. I only had time to use my iPhone.

Surviving Deployment

Since moving to Japan, we have been through a lot of deployments with Adam. While I know I’m not the only one who has to deal with them, I thought I would create a list on how we survive deployments in our family. Maybe some of these ideas will help you. Or someone you know.

Surviving deployments as children:

Our oldest daughter just turned 2. Adam has been deploying off and on since she was 5 weeks old. This is the first year that it’s starting to really affect Brooklyn. It is difficult for a toddler to understand why Daddy is gone to work and won’t be returning for a very long time. In fact, it’s pretty much impossible for their little minds to grasp, so I have tried the best I can to help her through this difficult time.

1) “See” Daddy every day. I have placed a lot of pictures around our apartment of Adam. Brooklyn can then see him via pictures all the time. This allows her to have a visual of him and brings her to talk about him a lot.

2) Buy a Daddy doll. We have a Daddy doll that Brooklyn absolutely loves. It’s a great way for Daddy to go everywhere with her. The Daddy doll is the perfect size to squeeze and snuggle with at night as well.

3) Create a deployment countdown. There are multiple ways to do this, but we have created a paper chain deployment countdown. Brooklyn loved help make it and it’s a fun thing for her to participate in each day.

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All you need is construction paper, a scissors, and tape.

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Cut the paper into strips (one for each day they will be deployed). Or, save time and energy by using a cutting board if you have one. Unfortunately, I do not.

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Let your child help by handing you the strips, taping the pieces, or whatever you would like.

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Finished product! After taping each individual piece and linking them together, hang up in a visible place. Then, each morning have your little one take one off. The chain will continue to get smaller and smaller as the excitement of Daddy coming home will grow!

4) Record videos before he leaves. I show these to both our girls. It’s great for Brooklyn to see her Daddy, but also great for Scarlett to hear her Daddy’s voice.

For Moms:

1) Make small goals. Don’t look at the deployment as one huge hurdle to get over. Instead, create small stepping stones to help you get through. Plan a small trip, invite people to visit, train to run a race. Having small things to look forward to allows the time to move by more quickly.

2) Find people in similar situations. We live on base here in Japan, so I am surrounded by women who have deployed husbands as well. It is so nice to be able to talk with them, commiserate about the same things, or just have a shoulder to cry on.

3) Kid-free time. This is key for me. While I absolutely adore my girls, I need a break every once in a while. So, I hire a babysitter once or twice a week to come for a couple hours so I can get away. This allows the girls to get used to someone other than their mommy, and allows me to run my errands at a fraction of the time it takes if I had the girls with me. You’d be amazed how refreshed you feel afterwards!

For Dads:

1) Send packages. I make it a point to send Adam something every 2-4 weeks while he is deployed. It may be something as simple as a card from me and the girls, or a big package full of goodies, movies, magazines, etc. Regardless of what it is, Adam loves receiving things in the mail from us. It is the highlight of his week.

2) Record videos. I try to record a video of our girls and send them to Adam every day. It allows him to see what new accomplishments each girl is reaching and helps him not feel as left out. (he was able to see B’s first steps via video and S’s first time rolling over). Technology is a wonderful thing!

3) Email. They love to hear from you no matter if it’s a good day or bad. It helps them feel more involved and up to speed on how life on the home front is going.

I would love to hear what you do to make it through the deployments!