Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Brilliant Mommy Idea

So now that we moved halfway around the world, with an adorable little girl, we have been getting quite a few packages in the mail. With packages, comes the need to send Thank You cards. Sending thank you cards is something that in general makes me feel great. It's such a simple thing to do, but isn't done enough anymore. Along with thank you cards, I've also been sending more note cards to friends and family. As great as it is to connect via facebook and skype, there is nothing quite like a handwritten card from a friend.

In the past, I had always just bought Thank You cards based on the occasion. Buy a pack for the wedding, buy a pack for the baby shower, etc. I would use most, if not all, from the pack, and be done with it. Each person got one card, and I got new cards for the next event. Now,  however, I have some of the same people sending package after package to us here in Guam. (Did I mention that Little E is the ONLY grandchild on my side, or that I'm an only child?) So I don't want to send Grandma back the same boring generic Thank You card over and over again. The base exchange doesn't have a great selection, and ordering online is pricey and takes quite some time. What's a Mom to do?

Recently, Little E entered into the wonderful world of coloring. At this point, it's just scribbles, but she loves it. So much, in fact, that we have to keep the crayons and coloring books way up on a shelf or she would have crayons on the floor 24/7. I recently realized that at this point coloring books are sort of pointless. Sure she is excited because of the images of characters she recognizes, but she's not even attempting to color within the lines.

Lightbulb! I have a ton of old card stock leftover from Little E's first birthday party. Have her color on blank card stock, fold in half, and use as any kind of card I need. The bonus is, I also have a bunch of leftover envelopes in 'social' size, which is exactly the right size for the card stock folded in half. No cutting down or trimming needed.

So now, when Little E wants to color, I grab a blank piece of card stock, and her box of crayons. When she is finished, I fold it in half, and stick the card on a shelf until I need it. I'm quite certain any grandparent would much rather get a beautiful masterpiece from Little E than a generic thank you card any day. I figure when she gets older I can get her to start drawing more specific photos for holidays and such.

Saving money, and sharing Little E's artwork. It's amazing how a little idea like this can make me feel brilliant! I'm sure people have been doing this for years, but it's a new idea to me! What are some of your brilliant mommy ideas? Or parent ideas?

Friday, April 26, 2013

Falling in love with Guam

I think I may have just experienced the perfect day.

This morning, while Little E was down for her nap, I got to talk to and Skype with various family members. As much as I enjoy it here, it's so great to be connected to people back home too. Lee had to run into the office for a bit, and thankfully was able to go in while Little E was napping so I could relax. To any moms of toddlers, especially those approaching a "drop the morning nap" age, that alone would quantify a great day. But it gets better!

Once Lee got home, he suggested we try out a sushi place for lunch (http://sushirockguam.com/). It's definitely tempting fate to take a 16 month old to a restaurant, but we were willing to risk it for good sushi. Little E was great, she devoured an avocado roll, as well as some of Lee's spicy tuna rolls and veggie tempura. We noticed she was having some issues with the straw cup they gave her. When there are handles on a cup, she wants to tip it up, which doesn't work with a straw. We opted just to take the lid off and straw out, and she proceeded to drink out of the cup one handed! It's always cool when you make something harder, and your toddler handles it better. After lunch, she didn't fall asleep in the car, but instead took a nap when we got home. Double bonus! Especially since Lee got a call he had to go into work for a bit after lunch. Twice in one day, I got to relax and read my book while Little E napped. Unheard of!

After Little E's nap, we decided to take a quick beach trip. There is a beach just minutes from our house called Gab Gab Beach. (Yes, we always think of Yo Gabba Gabba too; beaches are AWESOME!) Part of it is closed, so we went to a new section today. It was great because there was some deeper water and we were able to use Little E's new float (we highly recommend it, specifics found here) We were in water that was probably 15-20 feet deep and so clear you could see right to the bottom. I've never before seen water this clear. It was the beautiful blue you see in travel magazines. I floated on my back for a while just staring up at the clear blue sky. The weightless feeling was an amazing relief on my pregnant belly. You know that moment in all cheesy romantic movies where one character finally realizes they are in love with someone? I was in that moment, except I realized I was in love with being in Guam with my family. Laying there floating in beautiful water listening to Little E giggle I though to myself "nothing could get better than this."

Lee got out to check out a specific swimming area nearby and called for us to join him. Standing on the ledge of the swimming hole, we could see huge sea turtles and all kinds of fish in the water! I've never seen a sea turtle like this before, let alone just feet away from me, and not in an aquarium. Little E watched as her Daddy tried (unsuccessfully) to catch up to and swim with the turtle. We moved back to the shore line, and I sat in an adirondack chair while Little E played in the shallow water. I swear she would have sat there for hours, but it was getting late.

We packed up the family, and headed home. Lee made a yummy dinner, and we all sat down as a family and ate together. Since he's been working nights, we haven't gotten to eat together since last weekend. After dinner Lee gave Little E her bath, and got her ready for bed. We had a mini family dance party to "Twist and Shout", and Little E snuggled up for bed.


If this is life on Guam, I could definitely get used to it.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

On the Plane

It seems like when I used to fly a lot, I would practically write novels. Lee and I were maintaining a long distance relationship (Bremerton, WA and Philadelphia, PA) so flying was a must. The first time I left on a plane back to Philly I was a hot mess before even getting through security. I stopped at one of the airport bookstores and brought a leather journal. As soon as I boarded the plane I just started writing. Origianlly I think it was just for me, but directed at him. At some point it became for us. I started to take the book everywhere, even to class with me. I started filling it with all the great things about Lee, and us. I share hopes, dreams, fears, and everything in that book. Eventually I decided to give it to him, I think at our next visit. But I couldn't stop writing.

Somehow we decided to get another book so we each always had one. When we saw each other for visits, we would swap. I remember trying to have some self control and not read everything the first day after the swap. I honestly can't say if our relationship would be where it is today if it weren't for those books. For some reason, the privacy that comes from writing in a journal helps me open up about things, even when I knew it would be shared.

Eventually as our relationship progressed (and we finally got to live in the same state), the journals faded away. We still have them, their pages are filled with the scandalous tales of our beginnings, professions of love, our first frustrations with each other, and taped up mementos and photos. We still use them on a rare occasion one of us feels like there is a lack of communication about a topic or issue. Mostly, however, they are just a keepsake.

So here I am, back writing on a plane. Only this time, its in a notepad (to be transcribed to blog later) and its sandwiched between to do lists, and packing lists. Little E finally just drifted off for a nap on our second 6 hour flight of the day. One more flight to go after this, the longest of the 3, a full 8 hours. By the time we land in Guam it will be 0400 EST. We left BWI this morning at 0645 EST, and were awake by 0330 EST. Can you say exhausted?

There is so much to do when we get to Guam I am overwhelmed just to think of it. I guess the upside is, there is no real rush, we will be there for 3 years. This will certainly be a big part of our lifetime adventure. And speaking of adventure, we are expecting another one on July 5th. It is another girl and we are overwhelmed with excitement and joy. Oh and fear, did I mention fear? New place, new baby, and Little E will only be 19 months old when she gets here.

Grandmom already has her tickets booked for her first visit. :)


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Why Lee is a rock star.

I know, everyone thinks their spouse is amazing. Or at least, I hope they do. If you DON'T think your spouse is amazing, you probably shouldn't be married to them. Either way, that is not the point (although it does inspire me to write a "You need to leave him because" post, but another day).

My husband is a rock star because since our daughter was born in Dec 2011, my husband has gotten down on no less than 100 gross bathroom floors to change her diaper. Last week we took a road trip to Arkansas to visit family. Probably 1 out of every 3 places we stopped didn't have a place to change Little E. Now generally, we will just use the car to change her. However, when it's below freezing outside, we don't like to stand there with the door open letting her little parts freeze. So to the floor my husband goes. Because he is amazing and would never have me crawling on a bathroom floor.

What is with places not having changing tables? Or even a basic flat surface other than the gross floor to change a diaper? Are they really that expensive? Is there like a "baby changing app" that you can overlay on google maps to tell you where there are changing tables on your road trip? If not, there should be. (If you create it, I want some credit!) Actually, Wawa, which was one of my all time favorite places to stop for a snack or potty break, doesn't have changing tables in ANY of their bathrooms. What's with that Wawa? Now I know, rather than ranting about this on a blog, I should write to the company. But frankly, we are moving to Guam, where it will never be below freezing, and car rides will never be longer than an hour. And I'm too lazy to write something formal and well composed enough to send to a company. But you should do it! Write to your local non-changing friendly location and complain. Or be ballsy enough to change your baby on a table in the middle of Burger King. (For the record, that was my suggestion, but Lee said no)

So in short, because he changes diapers on the floor of nasty bathrooms, my husband is a rock star.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Moving

It's getting more real by the day. We are packing up our little family and moving to the other side of the world. I still don't think it's completely hit me. But it's starting to for sure. We got an email today with the information for the company that will be shipping our household goods. They should contact us within a few days to schedule a walk through and a pack out date. My whole life is going to be packed into boxes, and put on a ship. I won't see it for two months.

Of course, we'll have our bags, and the basics will stay with us while we prepare to follow our belongings across the world. I find myself every day adding things to the list of "don't pack" items. Of course, everything we don't pack, has to come over on the plane with us. (Not to mention the baby and two dogs that will be flying with us as well). In general Lee and I are experienced flyers. Even with Little E, we have glided through airports, smoothly handled layovers and plane changes. (For the record, if traveling with an infant, you need a Moby). We were those people, who walked through the airport with a baby looking so cool and collected; the expert travelers. So cool, in fact we had time to take cute little photos of Little E on her first plane and first layover.



But this time? I have a feeling it won't be so pretty.

 I've heard nightmares from other military wives on forums, and former military members at the workplace. "Don't let the movers pack your jewelry", "Hide your movies in with your linens and pre pack those boxes" "Don't forget to take out the trash or they will pack your trash"...... and of course the ever so popular "When we transferred from xyz to abc they lost 3 boxes with all my (insert hugely important items here)."

So what I gather is that I need to:
-pre pack linens with my movies (Doesn't this defeat having highly trained movers packing for you?)
-tote my jewelry box around with me for two months, and then on a 24 hour plane ride to Guam (Right, cause I wouldn't lose that!)
-not have any trash in the house when the movers arrive (I am CERTAIN that at least one dirty rag is going to get packed. We have a baby!)
-somehow have everything I need for two months separated and removed from my house prior to the movers getting there

 I imagine that no matter what I do in prep, we are going to show up in Guam and they will lose the box with the linens and DVD's, lose just the cushions to our couch and the drawers to our dresser, and a bunch of rotten garbage will have been inadvertently packed with all of Little E's clothes. Or maybe we won't even end up in Guam. Maybe the plane will get re routed to China inexplicably.

This is insane. Obviously I know that there are probably thousands of military families across the globes that have dealt with these very same questions before, and in the end it all works out. Right?

 Do you have any advice for a move of this magnitude? Any tricks you have learned moving house with a just-turned-one toddler? Please avoid scare tactics; I don't think I need to be scared any further

Saturday, October 13, 2012

A "Sometimes" Food



Cookie Monster now eats a balanced diet. Surely you've heard of this, as it's not recent news. I had heard of this, shortly after it happened I'm sure. But I didn't pay too much attention to it. Children weren't even on my horizon then, and my years of watching Sesame for me had long passed.

Fast forward 3 years, I now have a daughter that watches Sesame Street, and for the first time this morning, I saw an episode with the song in question "Cookies are Sometimes Food." It was performed by the Owl. You know the guy, he sang "Put Down the Ducky" to Ernie when he wanted to learn to play the saxophone.

Don't get me wrong, I am all about healthy food. Lee and I do our best to feed Little E healthy food, fruits, veggies, and the like. I'm fairly certain she has never had a cookie in her life (although there was that rogue marshmallow Lee fed her once). But Little E is a HUMAN baby. Almost all the characters on Sesame Street are MONSTERS, he is the Cookie Monster at that. His name alone indicates his job is to eat cookies. The argument is that he is not setting a good example for kids watching at home. Well, as my best friend so gracefully put it "I watched Sesame Street all the time growing up and I didn't sit around all day eating nothing but cookies! You know why? Because my mom wouldn't freakin let me!"

Exactly. If your kid watches Sesame Street, and want's to eat a bunch of cookies, because Cookie Monster does, this is where the whole "parenting" thing comes in. You sit the child down, and maybe explain that Cookie Monster is a monster, and they are a person. People need a variety of foods like fruits and veggies, and cookies are special treat. Is that really so complicated?


Monday, October 8, 2012

Teeth, hippy nonsense, and grown up little girls.



We had a good run. Almost 10 months with no teeth. This was equivalent to bliss for a first time nursing mom. After all, no teeth means no biting.

For several weeks, I knew the end was near. Little E was generally a little whiny, the gums were getting harder, and everything was going in her mouth. Her Nanny even started calling her a little bulldog in response to her drooling. And so the medicine routine began. Teething pellets mostly, with Tylenol or Advil as needed. I made a nice little chart so we could all keep track of who gave her what and when. I was not thrilled. Firstly, Little E does not take medicine easily (at least not from me). Secondly, I really don't like giving meds to her when I don't know for sure she is in pain. Sure, she was getting teeth and was whining, but maybe she was just whining because she's a baby.

Enter the amber teething necklace. I had of heard of them before, but mostly thought of it as a bunch of hippy nonsense. Partly because of articles like this. However, look beyond the article, to the myriad of "I'm a nurse, and a mom, and despite the science this helped my kid" comments, and for $19 it was worth a try. We ordered ours from Fluff-N-Stuff Baby. I'd met the Mom who runs it, and her kids wear amber, so I figured I was getting a tried and tested version through her shop.

It arrived, and I quickly put it on little E. If nothing else, she looks adorable with it:


So once we put it on, we decided not to give her medicine and see if it "worked." For the first two nights, we took it off of her neck at bedtime. She cried and cried before going to bed those nights. Lee and I were both skeptical if it was the necklace making the difference. However, since it tucked safely under her shirt, we thought we would keep it on at nights too.

The verdict  It might be hippy nonsense, but it seemed to work for us. Her first tooth was through the surface yesterday morning, with no medicine at all and a smile on her face. Maybe the necklace helped, or maybe she just wasn't bothered that much by teething. But just in case, that necklace stays on.

With one teething, another is getting ready to graduate from high school this spring. My step daughter K, sent us some preview photos from her graduation shoot, here is one of them:
Photo
So beautiful right? K was 15 when I met her, and just in the two years I've had the pleasure of knowing her, she has grown up so much. I know, I will blink and be looking at Little E's graduation photos soon too.