Churaumi Aquarium

We knew one of the highlights of our trip would be to explore the Churaumi Aquarium in Okinawa, Japan.  It is one of the largest aquariums in the world, featuring a GIANT central tank that houses an array of sea life and the world’s biggest fish, the whale shark.  Not one whale shark either, but three! We were mainly excited to watch Evelyn’s reaction to all the excitement.  She did not disappoint us;)  The day was smoking hot, so we limited our time outside in the Ocean Expo Park.  We made our way around using the various ramps and elevators with the stroller.

Churaumi Aquarium

E had a snack at the Dolphin Show, and although I don’t think she could see the excitement in the tank very well, she loved charming all the audience members around her.

Churaumi Aquarium Churaumi Aquarium

Inside the aquarium, she loved looking at the fish and following them around with her whole head!  She also enjoyed seeing her own pretty self in the glass.

Churaumi Aquarium

She quickly caught the attention of a few other visitors, and became our wee baby celebrity.  I’m now wondering how many people have photos of her…weird.  But it was done with kindness, and this particular family was delighted to have their baby meet our baby.  Hey, we took advantage of the cute moment and snapped a photo too!

Churaumi Aquarium

Daddy was glowing with his baby, sharing and showing little girl around:

Churaumi Aquarium Churaumi Aquarium Churaumi Aquarium Churaumi Aquarium Churaumi Aquarium Churaumi Aquarium

Looking back on these photos, I’m excited for the memories we made, and the ones that await us when we are back together.  It was a lovely trip to the aquarium, I’m so glad we experienced it together.

Konnichiwa! Our Adventures in Japan

Our first BIG summer adventure had the little lady and I flying to Japan to meet up with her daddio.  We rented an AirBnb apartment to save on hotel costs, and got to live like locals for a week.  Even with a baby, we are determined to be immersed in a culture when we travel.

 Our little town of Onna Village did not disappoint with gorgeous ocean views, fun little restaurants, and a quiet place to rest our heads at night.  We also enjoyed many neighborhood walks in the steamy climate, and soaking up the time together.

traveling in Japan traveling in Japan traveling in Japan

The lovely view from our apartment, and the building, pictured below:


traveling in Japan traveling in Japan

I especially loved the little Japanese washing machine, which weighed the laundry first to determine how much water to use.  I dried our belongings on our sweet little porch line.  I know it seems silly to some, but feeling like I “live” in a place, if only temporarily, makes me super happy.  I guess we can put down our short roots anywhere.

The apartment was just one main room, with a little galley kitchen and tiny toilet room.  There was a separate wet room with a tub.  We would put Evelyn down at night, and crouch together in the little galley hallway with a floor pad and our kindles/laptop to watch movies.  It was tight, but we made it work.

traveling in Japan traveling in Japan

We also whipped up a ton of meals in on our induction burner.  It was simply amazing to sit down for meals as a family, and enjoy a cold beer with Ryan.  These little moments are easily taken for granted.  They are what I miss the most.

traveling in Japan traveling in Japan

Ry was our expert navigator, leading us around on the opposite side of the road, all over the island.

traveling in Japan

traveling in Japan

 

I enjoyed finding quirky signs, and all fancy features on the toilets!

traveling in Japan

I also loved the amenities provided for families.  After our time in Korea, and now Japan, we definitely see a difference in the treatment of children compared to the USA. It almost feels like family life is more respected, children are more cherished and not seen as such a nuisance.  I do not have a whole pile of research to back it up, just my own observations.  It is a nice change of pace though.

traveling in Japan traveling in Japan

 

Over the next week I’ll be diving into some of our specific stops along our journey.  It was awesome to take baby E on her first HUGE trip, and see that as a family we can manage to travel and it be FUN!

52 Weeks of Happy 2015: 29

Goodbye week 29!  You were packed with spontaneous and planned hang outs.  My friend Kaylynn and I had to search for silver linings on Wednesday as all our plans went awry.  We ended up having a fantastic time turning it all around, and went for a lovely walk (and poke bowls at Whole Foods make life better too).  I hit up three Stroller Strides classes, and fit in a nice mommy-only yoga class as well.  I finished the top of my quilt, (hooray!) and also backed up my computer, phone, and video camera AND cleaned them all off. I am feeling mighty productive!

Walk with Kaylynn

Add a dose of interesting freezer meals, one sleepy six-month old after vaccines, and lots of Tango chat time with Daddy, and you have our week!

Mommy and Evelyn

I have been bitten by the must-do bug, and am off to conquer the rest of my July Goal list! Hope you are all doing well, and Happy Saturday from my lovely little lady and me;)

My First Flight with Baby Lady

This month we took on our biggest adventure yet.

Evelyn and I took to the skies and flew a total of 9,306 miles from Honolulu to Okinawa, Japan and back again.

I was up 32 hours straight.  I WAY over packed my carry on.  We made it through immigration, customs, and did it all as just the two of us.

Now that it is all over, I feel like a super-hero.  It’s not like I’m dying to do it all again. Flying that many hours, going that distance is hard as an adult.  As an adult with a child, that is a whole other beast.  But Ryan and I both know that our life is about traveling.  I could just sit in Hawaii, but I’d rather keep GOING.  We have to push ourselves, or we will not see one another or the rest of our family. It was a challenge, but we made it happen.  I will have a post coming out in August with some “infant travel tips” but until then, here’s how our very first BIG adventure went down!

I packed over a period of two weeks.  I sent an “uh-oh” box of extras to Ryan just in case our luggage was amiss or we needed an extra outfit or two.  I made a huge list and slowly gathered and put things in the suitcase.  Here’s all the gear, ready to go!  I find it slightly hilarious that on our Euro-trek for 30 days I only had that red back pack down there. For the WHOLE 30 DAYS. Babies change things just a lil bit;)

Traveling with my girl

On our flight to Tokyo they did not let babies and mommies get on the flight first.  I quickly learned that is not a bad thing, as I found it was better to wait until the last minute to board the plane.

However what IS bad is when there are NO gate agents to be found.  I had to wear Evelyn, and try to stuff both the stroller and car seat into their covers by myself. It was sweaty and hard, but I managed it.

7. 5 hours later we landed in Tokyo.  I rolled us off the plane and through all the customs fun.  When checking into our domestic flight, the attendants told me I had to check my stroller.  Ugh. After already carrying her through Honolulu and the past seven + hour flight, and customs…I felt like crying. Now I’d have to hoof her around for another 5 hour layover and then a 3 hour connecting flight.  Not that Ev is heavy, but after that many hours and only these two hands to hold her, I was exhausted and counting on the stroller for relief.  They could see my dismay and the Japanese flight attendant asked, “you need a baby carry?”

Baby carry?

Baby carry to the rescue!! That meant a free airport rent-a-stroller!!

Traveling with my girl Traveling with my girl

Evelyn thought it was pretty cool too.  It saved us.  Seriously.  I wheeled her all over the airport, and into the enormous Japanese “Family” bathrooms that have pull out beds, big wash sinks (handy for all the bottle cleaning I needed to do) and fancy toilets that helped even mommy feel a little fresher;).  I swear, I am so thankful Japan was our first country to fly to with baby.  It seems they really think about families, even in the airports, and we had so much goodness at our fingertips.  There were even mini playgrounds and big nurseries inside the terminal.  Saving GRACE.  Our flight to Okinawa was delayed, turning it into a 4 hour adventure and bumping our total travel time + airport hang out time to approximately 18 hours.

The worst part was when we finally landed, the luggage took FOREVER (an hour at least) to come out, and the whole time Ryan was on the other side of this strange glass wall, unable to hug us yet or help us with the bag loading.  So close and yet so far! But then we got through, and were all in one another’s arms.

The flight back was just as tremendous, and because of the time change, we left Japan at 10 am on July 8th, and landed in Honolulu at 7 am on…July 8th.  We lived the day twice and lived to tell the tale.  Was it hard? Yup.  It was a challenge, and one I shall be undertaking again soon, with a different destination in mind.  But if you are a mama or a daddy that has to embark on a crazy journey like this, by yourself, you CAN do it.  You WILL get through it.

Traveling with my girl

The whole time we were traveling I just channeled my inner peace.  I worked at staying as calm as possible, and doing everything with intention.  I moved slowly and gave myself plenty of time to do it all.  I am also thankful for the few airport angels with bumped into.  Like the Japanese gate agent who rented us a stroller.  The second agent that made sure I had a stroller on the way back. When I stepped off the plane in Tokyo, there was a little “baby carry” with Ev’s name on it because I asked politely for the service.  Thank you to the two teenage boys I sat next to on the way to Tokyo, who first looked horrified to have a baby there, and then played with her and talked to me about all of our adventures.  Thank you to the sweet Grandma from Kansas that helped us get food in Tokyo.  She had a broken foot, I had a baby…we made it work and combined our efforts to both sit down and eat some delish ramen.  Thank you to the young man that helped me get my bag up in the overhead bin, to the kind Japanese mama I sat with on the way to Honolulu that smiled at us and helped me when I dropped a load of Ev’s things out of reach beneath the seat.  Thank you to the kind flight attendant on the plane that cleaned all of Evelyn’s bottles for me when she was sleeping and I couldn’t get up.  People can be amazing.

I think at times I’ve only heard horror stories with baby travel.  It was tough, but it was also okay.  I was beyond tired, but it had to be done.  I hope the next time we travel we may find some good people again.  We tried to put really wonderful vibes out there to the universe, and in return, I found people were truly lovely back.  We received aid, and when we didn’t, I just sucked it up and looked for silver linings.  I also have so much respect to the mamas that did this before me, and THANK YOU to wishing us well, to those of you that were praying for us, and for those that gave us such valuable tips before we headed out.  Another adventure is just around the corner, and already I’m channeling this first trip for strength, motivation, and the little bit of wisdom I gained along the way.

Look out soon for a post containing a few infant flying tips & tricks I learned on our first BIG trek!

Growing Girl: Weeks 21-25

My sweet baby.  You are a light.  You are pure joy.  I had no idea when I became a Mama that I would love being a Mama so very much.  We bonded over a huge trip these past few weeks, and you astound me daily with your excitement to meet new people, experience new things, and take on adventures.  I have a feeling you are very much like your mama and daddy in your fierce ability to adjust and keep looking at the world with open-eyed wonder.  You met Daddy again, you also met your Godmother Katie, and you loved both of them.  You had your very first babysitter (that was not family or a friend) and you handled it with ease.  I might have cried in the car;)  I also cried last night about how you are growing.  I want you to grow.  I want you to flourish.  But my goodness, the time does FLY. You are six months old tomorrow.  Half a year.  It is hard to believe, and yet at the same time you’ve done it right in front of my eyes.  I continue to enjoy capturing you each week, my sweet little lady.  Thank you for being on this journey with me.

Evelyn Photography Project: Weeks 21-25Growing Girl Series Growing Girl Series Growing Girl Series Growing Girl Series Growing Girl Series Growing Girl Series Growing Girl Series Growing Girl Series Growing Girl Series Growing Girl Series

From Weeks 21-25 I want to remember:

 How fiercely you want to sit up. You are ALMOST there. You can do it for about 10 seconds before toppling over.  You also want to crawl. You lay on your belly and look at me with confused desperation/determination.  I know you’ll get there.  Until then, I’ll keep encouraging you the best I can.

We started sign language and although you can’t do it, you are SUPER PUMPED whenever I make the sign for “milk” when you are hungry.  It’s a small thing, but I can feel the excitement of the two of us communicating in the future.

You have your two adorably sharp bottom teeth. It feels like we work every day at getting the other ones in with piles of drool.

You still love music. We’ve added The Wheels on the Bus to our daily list, and you love the people going “up & down” and the doors going “open & shut”.

We’ve been hanging out with other mommies and their babies. It is crazy fun to see you interact with other people your size.

I was thankful for how brave you were going to Japan. You handled it like a champ, and although we were both tired, we MADE it. There and back, safely.  My little travel buddy, our life is going to be full of more trips, I know we are both up for the task at hand.

You can now roll back to front, and across the floor to eat chair legs, or get into something else horribly dangerous.  White hair for mommy early? Eek.

I love getting you from your crib after naps and in the morning. The smile and wild flapping of your arms and legs makes me feel like the most amazing person ever.

As much as you need snuggles…oh my how I have realized I need them too.

You have always loved the outdoors, but this month you started noticing grass, reaching for flowers on the trees, and turning your face to the breeze.  I love when you reach for leaves and notice the natural beauty around you, it reminds me of Daddy.

You keep on growing my girl.  I could keep going with all the small wonders we encounter together on a daily basis, but know you are a constant source of love, joy, and make my days wonderful.

We love you Evelyn.

Sweet Summer Sundays: Take 6

Our weekend was quiet and productive.  I spent it with my little lady, exploring and entertaining ourselves with simple pleasures.  I finished (FINALLY) the top of my quilt, a project I’ve been working on for many moons.  The final product is still months away, but it felt good to get lost and toil away on it for multiple hours.

sweet summer sundays

We hit up the bag sale at the local thrift shop.  Whatever you fill your bag with, the entire load is only $5!  I love going, and scoring great new (okay, gently used) goodies for my girl:

sweet summer sundays

We read a lot over the weekend too.  It is fun to see that Ev is now enamored with details.  My mom made her several beautiful quiet books, and she is noticing all the decorations inside them now.

sweet summer sundays

I missed Korea this weekend, so whenever that feeling strikes me, it’s time for beef and leaf! I even pickled my own daikon radish as well, to go along with the spicy cabbage kimchi. YUM!

sweet summer sundays

We finished with a book for mommy and baby.  We’ve been chipping away at James and the Giant Peach during our time together.  I know my doll needs to hear conversation to continue her learning process, and sometimes it is hard to keep talking with someone who does not speak back! I’ve taken to reading chapter books with her to keep the language flowing. 

sweet summer sundays

The summer continues on, and so do we;)

52 Weeks of Happy 2015: 28

This week has been AMAZING! It deserves many CAPS and EXCLAMATION POINTS!!! Due to it’s extreme awesomeness.  After landing back on island and rallying to get our life on track with groceries, cleaning, laundry, unpacking, baby and mama fighting jet lag, it has also been flavored with brilliant moments.

First off, this baby gal of mine is personality +++.  She has smiles to share with me everyday, and when I’m down, I appreciate her UP! I do love her so.

52 Weeks of Happy 2015

Having a crowd of guests come through our house helped pass the days in great conversation with good eats.  Having people come over always helps me to do some extra home sprucing!

52 Weeks of Happy 2015

I even cooked up a few fun treats!  It made me feel good to play hostess.

52 Weeks of Happy 2015

Ev has been trying out food, to my great delight.  I love eating, and have been hoping I might have another buddy foodie in the house.  Thus far cereal and carrots have proven successful after a few tries.

52 Weeks of Happy 2015

My friend from Seoul, Kaylynn is now HERE! It is amazing to have another great woman stationed with us here.  We’ve already been hitting the streets and making play dates.  I’m quickly learning the value of strong, positive, mommy friends.

52 Weeks of Happy 2015

On that same note, I had a wonderful “Mom’s Night Out” experience with my Stroller Strides group.  It’s fun to see one another not in workout clothes for a change, and trying the very cool Casablanca restaurant in Kailua.

52 Weeks of Happy 2015

Thus far, our chapter back on island is panning out to be a good one.  Partly because I work hard to make it that way, and also because we have GOOD people surrounding us.  Happy, happy week 28! Week 29 is going to have to work hard to top this one.  Cheers to you, and hoping you have happy, wherever you are;)

You Feel Like HOME to Me

It’s my last post to recap my Katie time. Ya’ll know how I am…I love reliving, and writing about adventures and memories made. I’m always slightly sad when a “final post” is in the wings.  BUT I am forever grateful that Katie came to see us when she did. It is refreshing to feel I have friendships in my life that are growing old with me.  That are growing with time, and changing as we do, and are still solid and strong.  It is a gift.

As I wrote the title for this post, I discovered I had titled a post with the exact same sentiment 5 years ago.  Katie was in that one too.  We were biking and loving Monterey, California.  We always find one another.  Find the throwback at this link;) 

Most of our days were spent just moving slowly.  Katie adjusted from a NYC paced life to our quiet Hawaiian island vibe.  Where there is time to saunter.  There’s early bedtime for mommies and her friends;)  There’s snuggling with the tiniest chubby little arms and joyful face.

home in Hawaii with Katie

Evelyn and her Godmother were pretty much besties by the second day.  I had no doubt.

home in Hawaii with Katie

And as for me, my soul was revived and uplifted.

home in Hawaii with Katie home in Hawaii with Katie home in Hawaii with Katie

We miss you here with us, but we’re already counting down the days until we see you SOON! Thank you for coming to be with us.

“True friends are always together in spirit”

L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

The Godmother

Selecting a Godmother for Evelyn was the easiest thing I’ve done for my daughter yet.  I thought through all the beautiful women I know, and immediately my dear Katie filled my mind and my heart.  I knew if Evelyn ever needed anything, Katie would be there.  Whether it be guidance, a little extra love, a laugh, a listening ear, Katie would be there for my daughter as she has been for me all these years, and for the ones to come.

Finding a true friend is RARE in this life.  Especially one that loves you and understands your soul.  That accepts you through all the tough, silly, crazy stages of life.  I am already praying that Evelyn finds her “Katie” one day.  I think with the help of both her mama and her mama’s best lady friend, she will.  I know I wasn’t completely me, I was not my best me, until I found Katie.  I sincerely believe my husband is my best friend, and my bosom friend (as Anne Shirley would say) is Katie.  As much as she is a gift to us, I wanted to commemorate her saying “yes” to taking on this extra-special place in Ev’s life.

I wanted to find a nice, non-hokey gift for The Godmother.  It’s hard ya’ll.  There’s “cute” stuff out there.  But I wanted something clean, simple, and meaningful.  Cue the ETSY hunt!  I stumbled across Peytons Treasures and found the perfect piece.

Godmother gift bracelet Godmother gift bracelet

The charm bracelet arrived in lovely packaging, with Evelyn’s birthstone and name dangling alongside the Godmother disc.  I think both of my girls loved it:

Godmother gift bracelet Godmother gift bracelet

It is a true treasure to have such lovely ladies in my life.  May we continue to grow together. To be kind to one another.  To learn and live and love.  To cry in frustration, and celebrate with joy.  If ever there was someone I knew could be alongside me on this journey, it’s you Katie.  I love you and Evelyn so much! Cheers to the beginning of the Godmother years!

At the Beach with My Best Girls

There’s nothing like our beach her in Kailua.  I love it. Seriously. You may live near a beautiful beach, but I’m just guessing Kailua would take it in a competition, hands down.  Our time there is always special.  It’s pretty local, so we don’t have to fight the hoards of Hawaiian tourists, and I adore the tree line, it makes keeping pale babies and mommies from getting too sizzled in the sun.  Our water is a gorgeous blend of light blue, turquoise, and deep blue.  The trade winds keep it from getting too hot.  The sand, although devoid of many shells, is soft and white.

Yup, that’s our home.

So what makes it even better? Having my best friend AND baby on it with me!

beach girls in Kailua beach girls in Kailua beach girls in Kailua beach girls in Kailua beach girls in Kailua beach girls in Kailua beach girls in Kailua beach girls in Kailua

We’ll be back to the beach this week, I want to soak up this Hawaiian sunshine, beauty, and peace as much as I can.  As always, our time here is temporary and we try to savor the moment.