Sunday, December 17, 2017

I give up on Okinawa

When we first got to here I was very driven, writing things on the calendar for every weekend -- a new beach, a new park, something -- kind of a bucket list mentality without having written down a real bucket list. I had been fed a steady diet of "you need to do this!" and "you need to do that!" by everyone who'd ever been here, from the time I announced we had orders. It was nice for awhile, but a little exhausting. So much to see and do, so little time! I wanted to hit up all the good beaches. Then while we were stuck inside one weekend after another either due to typhoon conditions or restricted liberty status due to events outside our control, summer abruptly turned to fall, then to winter (winter mostly characterized by temperatures of around 60 and lots of rain). My checklist got squashed after I cancelled Okuma resort for the second time. My expectations plummeted from way up there to waaaay down here.

And you know what? It's been a good thing. I'm back to appreciating the little things and not getting all worked up over plans that don't work out. I'm enjoying this lull before we have to gear up for the move back to the States. We're having a low-key holiday season over here. The biggest plans we have for the next two weeks are a viewing of Star Wars: The Last Jedi (whenever a certain child stops being difficult and starts being deserving of such an outing), and a visit to the third biggest aquarium in the world. 

In the meantime I'm content. I love this little neighborhood we live in where the kids have the freedom and space to run and bike all over the place. I enjoy taking a walk at sunset with a couple of the kids, letting Annie buy herself a smoothie at the Shoppette. I look forward to our dinners out every Saturday, and now that we've finally found a babysitter, Tim and I will be getting out by ourselves soon. We won't even need to go far! We can walk over to American Village and eat somewhere that we wouldn't with all our picky kids in tow.

It took throwing up my hands and "giving up on Okinawa" to make me come back to the realization that we are simple people. We are happiest and most grateful when we're in our own little bubble, wherever that happens to be, just enjoying one another.

We take a lot of pictures and I don't blog a whole lot anymore, so here's a photo dump from the last month or two. (Also to serve as proof I have more kids than just Joey.)
Coach Dad 
The best we could manage on Thanksgiving Day
Tim is so uncomfortable here, it cracks me up. Western style seating for us, please!
Delaney has gotten involved with the Okinawan American Animal Rescue Society here, and just loves it. She has signed up for every event she can, and has a nice collection of t-shirts she'll eventually grow into. She also got herself a dog-sitting job for a week this Christmas with a cute Boston named Sushi. She is going to be in heaven. I have to say, I am looking forward to seeing this girl with a dog of her own.
My favorite decorations are the origami Christmas trees the girls made. 
A street on Camp Lester

Friday, December 15, 2017

Joey is TWO!

I just love this little face.

Our Joe turned two yesterday, and birthdays at this age are the best. The kids all counted down the days almost as eagerly as they count down to Christmas, because they couldn't wait to sing 'happy birthday' to their baby brother and lavish him with gifts and extra love.
We began the day by seeing the Big 3 off to school and heading to the naval hospital for his well visit. Joey is a hale and hearty 25.4 pounds and 33 inches tall. He's sitting just under the 20th percentile for his age. He stood on the scale and put his feet against the wall to be measured, no problem. After chatting with the doctor about what a bad sleeper and picky eater he is, he trotted out the door after her when she offered him stickers. No shots were due so it was an easy appointment.

Back home I got the house in order, made lunch and let him play outside before his nap. He happily pushed around his handmedown Strider Bike friends gave us a few days ago, and the scooter that he's commandeered from Timmy (both of which he's still too small and uncoordinated to use, but no matter). During his nap I baked his cake and blew up a bunch of balloons. When he woke up cranky as usual, I brought him downstairs and he saw those balloons and forgot all about being cranky. First he batted them around every which way, then tried putting them in the cabinets and in the kitchen sink.

Annie and Timmy came home, Tim got home from work early, I picked Delaney up from school where she'd stayed for board game club, and then came back home. When the breakfast casserole stubbornly refused to be done, and Tim and Timmy were going to have to leave for basketball soon, we were left with no other choice -- dessert before dinner!
It was everybody's lucky day. Here is the link to the video of Joey as we sing happy birthday to him. Maybe one of these days Blogger will make it easier to embed videos, but not today. I loved watching his expression as it changed from one of bewilderment to enjoyment.
He ate nearly all his cake and ice cream, and unlike last year, was a very polite young man with his fork. Once we were done with that it was time for presents. It was a bit chaotic, but once the dust settled Joey had some nice new things from us and his grandparents, including a toy truck, motorcycle pajamas, some clothes, books and a Plasma Car. He's got quite the collection of wheeled things now!

At two he seems to be changing at warp speed. I felt like even just driving away from his checkup he was talking even more than he'd been going in. He says short phrases and sentences now, like "Baby crying", "kids school," "Annie meanie", and "Mama, (where) are you?" Whenever I sing he says, "Mama, sop!"
He loves his outside time, and the weather here is beautiful this time of year so we're outside every day. After lunch and before nap I sit out back and watch him play and sometimes follow as he wanders around the grassy area behind our houses. I know my favorite memories are going to end up being those times. Then once the other kids get home from school, he can't wait for Annie to take him to the "gound" (playground). He needs lots of time outside. He turns into a little monster without it.

He really enjoys his baths too, and has one just about every day, many times on request. Every time he poops and doesn't like me wiping him a whole lot, he says, "Bah! Bah!" Sometimes it is easier to just plunk him in the bath than to wipe him completely clean.
He nurses just once a day, right before I put him to bed. As part of our bedtime routine I read him a story and then let him make his rounds giving out goodnight kisses. He goes down easily by 7:30, usually with a little car, truck or train in each hand. Sometimes he sleeps through the night, but more often than not he wakes up once or twice and needs to be resettled. We had a few really bad nights this month that made me desperate enough to reach out the Young Living rep on Oki and order him a weighted blanket from Etsy. Still waiting on the blanket, and my meeting with the busy Young Living rep isn't until the 20th. When I'm not having the really bad nights I don't mind waiting forever, but when he's waking up four, five or six + times in a night, I feel like I wait forever for anything that might give me relief.

He might drive me crazy sometimes, but I sure do love this little man.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Two Advents ago

Two years ago when I was writing down Joey's birth story, this is where I began it at first -- a full 24 hours before his arrival. But when I started to write it it all just felt too ponderous and long, and I didn't think anyone would hang in to the end if I started it that far back. If I had decided to write his birth story in two parts, part one would have begun at Mass the day before.

I was at 40 + 4 and  I was in a horrible mood. With the first three kids, I had not even come within three days of my due date, so this pregnancy should have been long over as far as I was concerned. I was exhausted, encumbered by my enormous belly which made getting dressed, sleeping, and everything in between difficult. Tim's mom sat in the pew with us for the last time. She had been staying with us since Thanksgiving and she'd be flying back home the next morning. I don't even know if I could adequately convey in words how unbearable it was the last week of carrying Joe. I was embarrassed even to go out in public with this big round belly preceding me everywhere and making people's eyes bug out of their heads. I had recently left the post office and a Marine walking toward me said, "Woah!" I didn't even want to be at church today. I wanted to stay at home and hide, and just throw myself the biggest pity party.

During the petitions, one of the prayers was for expectant mothers. There were only about 20 people in that tiny chapel altogether, so it was obvious they were all praying for me. It was all about me, ha ha. My eyeballs sprang a tiny leak. When the offertory hymn played, I don't remember what it was, but I remember how it hit me square in the feels -- a solemn sounding advent song about waiting and longing. It was getting to be too much. My eyeballs leaked faster, and I quickly soaked a couple of tissues. My face started to grow hot and I realized that I was about to have a full on ugly cry, and once it's coming there's no stopping it. I had to get out of there fast. Rather than rush out alone, I grabbed Timmy so I could pretend it was his bathroom emergency that was propelling me to the back of the chapel. I kept my head down and looked behind me several times to make sure he was following.

I was out in the fresh air and home free, my face crumpling and the snot and tears running. Then I rounded the corner of the building to go to the rear entrance where the bathrooms and sitting room were, and came face to face with someone I knew -- another mom of four on her way back with one of her littles. Looking into her shocked and concerned face I said, "This isn't as bad as it looks!"

She went with me to the back room and there was another mom back there with her kids too. I talked, they listened, they gave me more tissues, they told their own stories, we laughed, I blew my nose a thousand times, and my tears stopped. I felt like a huge weight had been lifted from me. I hadn't even known how much energy I had put into bottling up my feelings, and it was such a relief to let it out.

I don't know why such a rough morning turned out to be one of my most cherished memories, but it's what popped into my mind when a member of my bible study shared that she just learned that she's pregnant and thrilled that she'll be spending the rest of Advent pregnant. My sister Grace is due in January, and I wonder if she ever finds herself feeling a little overcome as she sits in the pew hearing those songs and waiting for her own baby boy.