Category Archives: Family

Thrifter

Last night, on a  whim, I decided to randomly browse the Hickam Thrift Store FB page. They periodically post pictures of things they have for sale in their store along with events and specials.  GOOD THING I DID! (of all days…) I found out last night that TODAY would be the $10/bag SALE!  Say whaaaaaaat?!  Yep, whatever could be squeezed into a brown plastic commissary  shopping bag = $10 (only including clothing, belts and shoes). SO, bright and early this morning, the kids and I headed out for some thrifty shopping! We are on a budget after all….

Finding one of the very last parking stalls in front of the thrift store, and “just” missing the opening doors rush at 9am, we all headed hand-in-hand into thrifting HEAVEN….a.k.a. chaos…( Excuse my lack of photographic proof…..I was too in-the-zone to take any pics “in” the thrift store!) Good thing Monroe was in the Ergo…there was NO way a stroller was getting anywhere in there…  Picking up our plastic shopping bags just inside the door, we all made a beeline to the baby section (Monroe has been in DIRE need of some new clothes lately, and the Target sale racks were yielding no good finds lately, so what a blessing to be able to hunt for treasures for her here!)  I went to town – Maya holding open her plastic bag as I filled it with adorable dresses for her.  That girl I tell you….she has a definite fashion sense. She made sure she had final approval before anything made it into her bag.  After hitting a dress jackpot for Maya, I again began looking for clothes for Monroe. There were a TON of newborn-6m baby clothes (for both girls and boys) and a lot of 3T and up clothes for girls, but I had the hardest time finding sizes in between for Monroe. Finally, after squeezing through the crowds, I found a bin with a few things for Monroe…a few items that she can wear now but most that are 12-18m. I was just happy to find great deals that the girls can both grow into!  Poor Milo. There was just nothing for him there. But that’s ok. He’s perfectly happy with his “comfy” Old Navy pants and would live in those and only those every single day if he had his way.  So, 45 minutes later and with a few extra add-ins, this was the result:

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(looks are deceiving – this was a massive Sears shopping bag…like the ones that hold comforter sets…and was about 1/2 full with over 40 items)

More specifically…I found clothes for Monroe (an adorable beach hat, bibs, dresses, sleepy outfits, tunics, etc):

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Clothes for Maya (umm….are you seeing that Flamingo dress?!):

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Super comfortable, just the right size wedges for myself:

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A pair of brand new slippers and sandals, along with a pair of white corduroy capris for my mom (not pictured)

All fitting into 2 bags! (@$10 each so $20 total!!) ….we could’ve probably squeezed more into those bags, but after 45 minutes of chaos, I think we all were more than happy to just buy what we had and escape the crowd! BUT, not before first letting the kids play in the toy room.  The way the Hickam Thrift Store is set up, there’s a cute toy room area tucked away just inside the main shopping area. Since toys weren’t on sale as part of the bag deal, there was NO crowd in that area.  Perfect because it gave the chance for us all to catch our breaths in there and the kids had a blast browsing/playing with all the neat 2nd hand toys.  Maya found this little princess, spinning, light-up toy and fell in love.

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At $1…I was sold.  She’s been playing with it all day. I think we’ve gotten a good dollar’s use out of it so far 😉

Milo’s been on a puzzle kick lately.  The way his mind works…he’ll sit there and try and try (sometimes for hours….literally!) until he figures things out – which makes puzzles perfect for him.  I saw this sitting in the corner and knew it would be right up his alley. He agreed (although in retrospect I think it’s too easy for him) and he held the puzzle in his lap all the way home where he quickly went to work.  At $3, it’s more than I would’ve “liked” to have spent, but still a deal nonetheless.

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All together, I walked out with a big shopping bag filled with over 40 clothing items, 3 pairs of shoes, a puzzle and a little toy, all for $25.08 (this is including tax)…knowing that that money was going to a good cause. (<—all profits from the Hickam Thrift Store go to helping community charities, local schools, military-affiliated non-profits)  I am ALL FOR getting a great deal “and” feeling good about it knowing others are benefiting as well 🙂

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Working for their $$$…

About a month ago, Marv saw these Financial Peace Junior kits go on sale on the Dave Ramsey site (we LOVE Dave Ramsey….if you have no idea who he is…you need to click HERE <— ) and we decided that although the kids are still young, we wanted to get them started RIGHT! We also figured this would give us a good idea on how to start working with them regarding finances:

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Included in each kit (to name a few since I’m sure I’ll forget something…) was an activity book, crayons, parent’s guide, 3 clear money envelopes, magnets, a sticker sheet, clear vinyl “chore” stickers, and last but not least the awesome chore chart!

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There were lots of pre-made chores on vinyl stickers to choose from, but I picked the ones the kids (2.5 yrs and 4 yrs) would be able to do on their own (or with a little help from me) and left the rest for later as they get bigger.  The reason Marv and I decided on this Financial Peace Junior kit is #1 – we believe in Dave Ramsey and follow his financial advice for OUR finances, #2 – it makes sense to us to pay the kids based on a “commission” system vs automatically earning weekly allowances…they need to deserve it first, and #3 – this looked like such a fun, easy to follow system for the kids to grow with!

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SO, how does it work? As seen above, the chore chart consists of – obviously – a bunch of chores. Going down the list, I checked what I wanted the kids to do for each day of the week (some will be every day like “get dressed,” “pick up toys,” “pick up clothes,” while others will only be every M, W, F – like “get mail” <—WITH mom! etc.  We decided that each chore would be worth 10 cents and we would pay out their commissions every night before bed. (we do this every night for instant gratification for the kids whereas older kids could be paid out weekly). Usually the kids each get 30 – 80 cents a day (depending on what chores are checked for the day and how ambitious we were!). We then go upstairs to the office where we have 2 sets of “Give, Save, Spend” piggy banks. I help them allocate their commissions into their three piggies (10-ish% going into the “give,” and the rest split evenly into the “save” and “spend” piggies)

Well, this past week, we decided the kids had earned enough – so we transferred their coins from their “spend” piggies into their clear “spend” envelopes and headed to Target to let them lose in the DOLLAR SECTION! (They each had $1.10 to spend).

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We must’ve spent an hour looking at eeeeevery single toy in those aisles. (aren’t those $1 sections FANTASTIC?!) Maya in particular had a blast playing with the princess wands and headbands while Milo was stuck to a yoyo.

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They each finally decided on their goods – a princess notebook set (that included a pencil, eraser, pencil sharpener, tiny notepad and larger notebook) for Maya and a Thomas the Train game for Milo. They were each $3….(darn you Target!)….but we had already told the kids that they each could pick out ANYTHING in that section, which they did, so to the registers we went!

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We were lucky to get a lady who was so patient with the kids! We explained what we were doing with them – that the kids had each EARNED their money and using it to purchase their own goodies and she was SO sweet with them – making them feel grown up and didn’t complain at all that they paid with so many dimes.  (Since they each only had $1.10, and their toys cost $3…Marv discretely swiped his debit card to cover the difference for each of the kids 🙂 )

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Next stop – Target cafe to eat a snack after our long day of $1 section shopping 😉 and to let the kids bust out their new purchases….earned with their COMMISSIONS!

 

 

 

 

 

Experiment away!

SO… I love experimenting. Whether it’s looking up a pinterest project, YouTube-ing how to make a certain “thing” (food, DIY, etc), or just flying by the seat of my pants <—-which usually turns out in failure…..I just love experimenting.

The joy of experimenting is being able to create something that you perhaps never thought you could do before.  For example, making our Halloween costumes for the past 3 years with a little craftiness and LOTS of trial and error after not having sewn since junior school – we were a family of skeletons (Maya was in my tummy), the Flintstones the next year, and Superheroes (Marv was deployed for the superheroes, but Monroe was in my tummy) this most recent year:
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Aside from those joys of experimenting, some of the lows are using up your time, money (ingredients/fabric/crafting items, etc), and brain power and sometimes having something not-so-good to show for it. For example – these “cookies” I made yesterday:
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Now, I must say, they look pretty darn tasty in this pic. Little do you know though, that these “cookies” were actually dry, crumbly little biscuit tasting things with pieces of chocolate chips in them (the saving grace of it all).  You see, I’ve never baked with coconut flour before. Yes, my bad for not having researched it more beforehand. I just figured that it’d be a good, tasty alternative to regular baking flour but boy was I wrong about that! I followed the recipe to a T, making sure I checked and double checked that I didn’t leave anything out, but nope, what should have been a nice gooey cookie batter was a dry crumbly mess. Darn coconut flour…..  I thought perhaps I could salvage it so I used my hands and balled these babies up, placed them on the cookie sheet and baked them. By golly the oven was already hot and ready to go so I was going to give it every chance of turning out that I could. Nope, dry cookie biscuits are what I got. My thoughts on this flour-swap-out-experiement = Epic Failure. Kids thoughts = yummy chocolate chip cookie biscuits! (they each got seconds) Yes they were crumbly and dry, but overall, the taste wasn’t all that bad…not good enough for me to save the leftovers though- it hurt to throw away all those used up, wasted chocolate chips 😦  BUT, lesson learned. So for everyone out there who’s reading this….do your research on coconut flour beforehand, find a coconut flour specific recipe, make sure lots of liquid/moisture is involved (since the flour apparently soaks it all up) and bake on!

So, basically, that’s my long winded way of saying experimenting can yield some great results but along the way, you’ll have lots of flops (as I just described above). But you know what? That’s what makes everything so exciting!  Marv will be the first to tell you that (especially in the kitchen) I’m either a hit or a miss:
– Basil pesto with pine nuts = miss.
– Chinese 5 spice slow cooker chicken = miss.
– Made from scratch cinnamon bread (the first 3 times) = miss
– Graham crackers (again w/ coconut flour) = miss
* Homemade organic chicken nuggets = HIT!
I love experimenting (poor Marv), because I know that eventually, I will hit that jackpot, and reap the joy of having created something exceptional! Whether it be the satisfaction from being able to make our own Halloween Costumes (just wait til you see our costumes this year…. 😉 ) or the satisfaction from finally cooking/baking something yummy for us ALL to enjoy. It WILL happen eventually!

The same goes for life. For every negative experience in life that you go through, that just means you’re one step closer to experiencing something positive. Never give up. Never lose hope. Just imagine what’s waiting for you right around the next corner……. If you give up now or stop trying, you’ll never get there.

 

Not your everyday homemaker…

Since moving into our house last May, I’ve been enjoying myself doing home-maker-ish things. So far, I’ve sewn the kids Halloween costumes (we were superhero’s in case you couldn’t tell…
Superhero kids! Handmade costumes  superhero family Handmade costumes

I’ve made the kids play capes:
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Made the kids cuddly minky blankies:
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And taggie lovies too:
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Can’t forget the curtains for the living room:
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And refurbished LOTS of furniture (that will need its own blogpost sometime in the future) So, what “homemaker-ish/DIY” project did I set out to do next? Well, on this weeks’ agenda: homemade, hand painted, RULER growth chart naturally!  Sand, stain, carefully hand paint, and seal….this one took a little bit just sitting there caaaaarefully hand painting all those #’s! I guess it was a labor of love though because I LOVE the finished product!
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And wouldn’t you know, it fit perfectly between the kids’ rooms upstairs. 🙂 Looking forward to tracking their heights throughout the years and being able to take this mobile growth chart with us should we ever happen to move. (My height chart growing up was drawn directly on the wall which meant once the house got painted…there went all our heights)

Next up, picture wall along the stairway. I’ve always wanted something like this, but did you ever realize just how many PICTURE FRAMES you actually need?! So a few years ago, I started randomly collecting them. Yard sales, clearance sections in stores, other random finds, and slowly, throughout those years, I’ve been able to amass a small collection.  My objective was to build an economical, mish-mash of picture frames that were similar yet all different – different sizes, different finishes, different styles – and I think I was able to accomplish my vision. 🙂 Still a work in progress – our family is growing and so will the picture wall – but loving it so far!
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 This picture was taken at the airport the day Marv deployed – I bet Maya wanted daddy to pack her up and take her with him!
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Anyways, over the past year, I’ve really been honing my homemaker ways 🙂  Now just trying to think what I should do next. Thoughts?

 

Honest after-baby insights – ENCORE!

Monroe is  just about five and a half weeks old now, so I thought it was time to add on to my previous blog/YouTube video and touch upon some honest insights that I’ve thought of since that last post.

Covered in this video will be things like – strangers wanting to touch baby, hair problems, sweat…again…, and life with multiple kids (combatting jealousy, etc) “newness” wearing off,  and not forgetting YOURSELF! But first off: daily dose of Monroe 🙂 I can’t believe just how BIG she’s getting!

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First off, let me expand on a concept that I briefly mention in this video, but talked more about in the last “After Baby Insights” video as seen HERE….about SWEAT! (specifically night-time sweat) Now, I’ve never actually “researched” this, but I would assume it’s due to hormonal (?) changes and our bodies trying to return to their factory settings? Who knows, but in any case, it happens. At just over 5 weeks out, I still wake up for Monroe’s early morning feed drenched! Like…we’re talking having to change my shirt amount of sweat. Gross I know. It’s more of the “cold sweat” sweat, so not “as” gross, but still.  Lol, anyways, if this happens to you, know that you’re not alone! If it doesn’t happen to you, then just know that I’m here looking on in envy 😉  But in all seriousness, every time I wake up to nurse Monroe (2-3x’s a night) I make sure to drink a glass of water for 2 reasons: 1) I’m nursing and need to stay hydrated to maintain my supply and 2) I figure if I’m sweating so much at night, I want to make sure I don’t sweat out my hydration that I’m putting in due to my nursing, lol.  Anyways, ENOUGH about sweating! On to the good stuff…here’s my “Honest after-baby insights, Encore edition” video 😛

Another year…

Yesterday, I turned the big 2-8.  Honestly, had Marv not reminded me a couple days before, I would’ve completely forgot! My birthday snuck up on me this year 😉  So much has happened in the past 12 months – we moved into our new house, Marv went on and returned from his deployment, Monroe was born – I’m so thankful to have experienced that all and to now be another year more experienced, wiser, insightful, and OLDER.

My day started out with all three kids sleeping in! We all woke up at 7:30am.  Ah-maz-ing.  For the most part, we spent the day cooped up in the house – reading books, watching Veggie Tales, and doing art projects.  Around 2-3pm, the gloomy sky started to clear up so I made a command decision, for my birthday, I wanted to have a dinner picnic at the beach!  On the menu: fresh fruit, Cookie Butter and organic strawberry jelly sandwiches, cold leftover pizza (I love it, don’t judge), chips, and organic apple juice boxes.

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I stayed on the “carpet grass” (as Marv calls it) with Monroe  while the kids got to play in the sand, and SWIM with daddy! These two….they just LOVE the beach!

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Now, doesn’t this just look like it’s straight out of a postcard?! (minus Milo running through it that is…)

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After some fun in the sand and water, it was time for nice COLD showers at the beach. We brought the kids sleepy clothes since neither of them had napped all day and we anticipated one or both of them falling asleep on the way home in the car….trying to be proactive! 🙂

Next came part 2 of our dinner picnic. Kids finished the rest of their food and got to enjoy their juice boxes while we all sat and waited for the sunset.

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And, oh was it worth the wait…picture of Marv holding Monroe as he looks out at the beautiful setting sun while I sit on a bench cuddling Milo and Maya….priceless.

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When Marv asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday, the only thing I was sure of was that I wanted to treat the kids to Menchies! (frozen yogurt place where you pick your flavor and all your toppings and you’re charged by the weight). Kids LOVE this place – it’s our go-to treat spot. So, we decided that on our way home from the Ko’olina Lagoons, if the kids were still awake when we got close, we would stop and get some dessert. Wouldn’t you know it, kids were wide awake!…and THRILLED when they saw Menchies! What fun is a birthday if you can’t spend it with the ones you love, right?

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My birthday this year was awesome. I got to spend it with my loving husband, my two cuddly, inquisitive, adorable kids – Milo and Maya, and my sweet new baby girl Monroe. It didn’t matter what we ended up doing (if anything at all) as long as we were spending time together (since my “Love Language” is Quality Time).  27, you sure were good to me. 28 – you have some big shoes to fill but I look forward to the best year yet!

 

 

Miss Monroe

After 40 weeks and 3 days of waiting, little miss Monroe Eve Yamada has arrived!  Fashionably a little late, but with an unforgettable arrival, she officially makes our family a party of FIVE!

Without going too much into detail, here’s how it all went down:

Labor started early Monday morning (Jan 27th) with uncomfortable contractions around midnight (nope, didn’t get to sleep that night at all), and painful contractions starting around 2am. After waiting for family to come and watch our 2 and 3.5 year olds, who were sleeping soundly and unaware that they’d be having a new little sister that day, we finally headed out to the hospital around 5:20am.  Traffic was already horrible (YES at 5:20 in the morning!) so good thing we left early while everything was still bearable.  Got checked into triage at just after 6am – was still laughing with my husband and the midwife at this point although actively in labor – then quickly moved to my L&D room.  Here’s the last “normal” pic of me pregnant! Taken just before we headed off to the hospital (right before a contraction…):

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With the help of the jacuzzi tub for about an hr (AMAZING) , an ice cube feeding-chapstick applying-picture taking-supportive husband, and my experienced, knowledgable, to-the-point midwife, we were able to welcome beautiful Monroe Eve into this world at 10:11am (just about 4 hrs after checking into the hospital). It was such a beautiful experience and I still can’t believe I was able to do it with NO pain meds at all! Entirely, scarily, yet beautifully all natural.  She was the biggest of all 3 babies, at 8 lbs 7.2 ozs (Milo was 7 lbs 15 oz and Maya was 7 lbs 11 oz).

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Big brother Milo and big sister Maya couldn’t wait to meet little miss Monroe and were both very insistent on holding her 🙂

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At 24 hrs old, her bilirubin levels were slightly elevated, so instead of getting discharged, we needed to stay an extra day in the hospital with baby Monroe under the phototherapy lights. I called it her tanning bed. She hated it.

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And yes, I even snuck one of these in while waiting that extra day for her levels to right themselves (vegan tropical strawberry Shakeology):

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Luckily, the blue lights did their job and we all were released right around the 2 day mark with a clean bill of health.  She hated her car seat, lol, but quickly got used to it and fell into a nice deep sleep to brave the afternoon traffic home.

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Our sweet girl is now 4 days old. Physically, I feel amazing and strong and just about 95%. Got the ok to start exercising at 2 weeks (probably start with walking) – so be on the lookout for more follow up Post-Baby Fitness entries to come!

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So this is paradise…

I’ve lived in Hawaii for most of my life. Growing up in the islands, it’s so easy to take for granted things that you’ve come to accept as “normal.” A fresh flower lei, a beautiful scenic drive around the island, a lazy afternoon spent watching the sunset while sitting on a cool sandy beach, attending a luau, going parasailing, swimming with the dolphins…all these things are so easy to do living in Hawaii yet oftentimes get overlooked. I’ve fallen into the trap of “oh that’ll always be there for me to do” or “I can just do that later” and literally YEARS have gone by.

With Marv being back home now, we’ve been soaking up family time (of course) and decided that we’re going to live each day in 2014 as if it were our last. We’re going to accomplish things we’ve been putting off, experience things with the kids that will build fantastic memories, and live with no regrets.  First up on our list: spur of the moment (literally purchased our tickets 2 hours before the show on a whim….) LUAU! We live just 15 mins away from Paradise Cove Luau and have driven by many times in the past on our way to the beach at Ko’Olina, yet have both never been. Tickets were a bit pricey for our budget minded selves, but – having money saved up in my own personal “spend” account, and being Marv’s BIRTHDAY(!) – I decided to treat us all 🙂  **For Military out there, make sure to visit your local MWR ticket office! I saved $50 PER ticket just by purchasing through their ticket office… **

We arrived right when our invoice told us to – 4:45pm and were literally one of the first families in. It turns out that although the gates open at 4:45, the actual luau show doesn’t start until closer to 7:15, so that leaves you about 2.5 hours to do all their activities – there’s only so many activities that can keep our kids occupied and 2.5 hours worth was a bit much for us! Backtracking though, we were greeted by beautiful fresh flower leis (and shell leis for the kids), a welcome drink (Mai Tai for Marv and Guava juice for me – YUM!) and a welcome picture. What a nice inviting entrance! We then were able to spread out and do all sorts of activities: make flower bracelets and headbands, get tribal “tattoos”, play traditional Hawaiian games, outrigger canoe rides, learn how to hula, watch a man carve tiki statues, and perhaps MOST importantly for the kids – play in the sand…

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Once the beautiful sun set over the beach – the “pre” luau festivities began! First up was watching Chief Ma’eva (the future fire knife dancing guy) husk a coconut, followed by a coconut tree climbing demonstration and a shower of fresh tropical flowers from above, followed by a net fishing demonstration, some live Hawaiian music, and finally the ceremonial removal of the pig from the imu (underground oven). FINALLY – the LUAU!

Dinner was a delicious spread of a variety of salads, taro rolls, poi, lomi salmon, fried chicken, kalua pig, macadamia nut crusted fresh island fish, and a HUGE desert table! Needless to say, we were all stuffed. This all in addition to my 2 (virgin) lava flows shared with the kids – they just love those parasail umbrellas – lead to full, satisfied bellies ready to be entertained…  Next, onto the show! (Did I mention we literally had the BEST seats in the house? Front row and center, directly in front of the stage. Didn’t even have to zoom in for any of these picture – they were all taken one handed while holding Maya on my lap…which is probably why they’re a bit crooked… 😉 )

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It was a good 1.5 hours of non-stop dancing, singing, and overall entertainment with so many fancy costume changes! I thought for sure Maya would fall asleep, but nope. She stayed awake the ENTIRE time watching them. Not bad for a 2 year old 🙂

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What a great way to start off our pact to live each day to the fullest.  LOTS more tasks to accomplish and memories to build…

Operation: Surprise the heck out of your wife and kids!

A few days back, I was approached by a good friend, Malika (Dudley) Judd (who used to be a weather reporter for a local Hawaii news station) on doing a brief morning news interview about life as a spouse of a deployed service member.  My immediate thought was honestly that there were so many other spouses out there – why me?! But of course I was happy to do it and felt so touched that she thought of me of all people!

Fast forward to yesterday, Jan 14th 2014 (Tuesday). We all woke up early for the 8:10am interview – kids were groggy – I was nervous as heck….I mean how often are you on TV?! Here’s the kids and my mom (helping me with the kids) in the waiting room:

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I wasn’t given any “talking points” for the interview so went into it completely clueless. Hopefully my answers to Steve Uyehara’s questions didn’t seem too random or strewn together!….remember….NERVES! Well…..I’ll stop trying to “explain” the interview and let the video speak for itself (click below):

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COMPLETE SHOCK!!!  I didn’t fully break down but I cried many, many smiley happy tears yesterday! Kids have been ALL OVER THEIR DADDY!

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And I feel SO incredibly blessed that we’re whole again…

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Dearest Baby “M”…once we get a few more days of family bonding time in, and take Milo and Maya to the water park, you have permission to come! (Due Date in 9 days and counting!)

Operation Surviving Deployment

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Deployments are hard. No matter how you look at it, there’s no getting around the fact that your sister, brother, husband, wife, cousin, mom, dad, etc – will be gone for an extended period of time. Now, I fully understand that deployments “today” are MUCH easier than deployments say 5-10 years ago when the mail system wasn’t as reliable, internet connections were spotty, and fighting was much more intense, and for that, I am beyond thankful.

Nearing the end of our 1st deployment, I thought I’d make a short list of things that we’ve done to survive during this time – I shall call this the Operation Surviving Deployment list:

* disclaimer – most of these apply to spouses with young children (just FYI)

1) TAKE LOTS OF PICTURES!  Every single day, I tried to take “at least” 1 picture of the kids. I tried to chronicle our daily routines, activities, kids playing together, my growing baby bump, things that I was doing around the house, etc. My husband has told me on numerous occasions this made him feel as if he were still there and he felt he was able to watch our kids growing and developing. (even tho he was clearly thousands of miles away) We both have iPhones and via our shared photo-stream, he was constantly able to see all the photos I took (versus me emailing or printing them out and sending them to him). SUPER simple!

2) Facetime or Skype as much as possible! Now, I know that this is not always an option for everyone, but we were fortunate enough to get to Facetime about once a week. My husband was able to have real conversations with the kids – and they were able to remember him: his mannerisms, his voice – things that just can’t be translated in picture.  Here’s my husband and at the time 1-year old daughter playing peek-a-boo with each other via Facetime

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3) Get on a BUDGET! Yes, the paycheck during a deployment are nice. But if you don’t budget appropriately during this time, at the end of the deployment, you’ll have nothing to show for it and will be overwhelmed trying to adjust down to a financially fitting life again. We are huge Dave Ramsey fans and used this deployment as a financial blessing and challenge. We immediately started an online budget via www.mytotalmoneymakeover.com where we could both input our income and expenses. We each had real-time access to it so we could see where we were in our monthly budget. This has been a powerful tool in helping us stay on track with our budget, be accountable to ourselves and each other, and save a set amount of money each month.

4) Don’t be afraid to learn how to fix things and do things for yourself. Inevitably, the moment your spouse gets on that plane,  the fridge will break, your microhood will stop working, your ceiling fan will die, and you’ll decide you just need to move around all the furniture to “fit” better.  Although sometimes you need to suck it up and call the repair man, YouTube has also become my new best friend. From learning how to hang shelves through the drywall, to figuring out the right way to refinish a chest of drawers, to figuring out exactly how to work all those fan remotes that have individual codes when they all get mixed up with each other….when you set your mind to something and you TRY, you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish. In this deployment, I’ve definitely become more independent and self reliant.   Sink or swim people, sink or swim.

5) STAY BUSY!  When you keep busy, I’ve found that you spend less time missing the ones you love. Of course we all still “missed” daddy, but we kept occupied so our days and lives were still full!  During this deployment, here’s a list of some of the things that we’ve done or have started to do:
– Joined the Children’s Discovery Center for fun field-trip days ($150-ish for a year membership for me and my 2 kids)
– Made it a point to visit more playgrounds, have more play-dates, and go to the Ko’Olina Lagoons to watch the sunset as much as possible! Getting out is great not only for the kids to burn off some energy, but the fresh air was nice and relaxing for us all!
– Started purchasing small furniture pieces on Craigslist (or at yard sales) and refurbished them to meet our needs (vs going out and buying new). Saved lots of money too! *Future blog post to come*
– Started a garden with my kids! So far we’ve grown cucumbers, tomatos, carrots, beets, pretty flowers, green onions, chives, and soon to be cantaloupe and strawberries! This is a great way to introduce the kids to a variety of healthy fruits and veggies. I know that they’re not grown with chemicals and pesticides, and the kids were more willing to try them since they physically watched them grow (and helped me water and weed). *Future blog post to come*
– Got more into sewing (learning as I go…no pro-sewer here by any means!) Sewed 5-7 maxi skirts for myself as my belly began to grow and clothes just weren’t fitting right. Also ambitiously struggled through sewing our Halloween costumes!  Trial and Error. My sewing strategy…
maxi skirt 2   maxi skirt 1   halloween costumes
– Focused on crafting – this is what I would do at night and during naptimes once the kids were sound asleep 🙂  I love the feeling of being able to be creative, so I made sure to keep my hands busy! I ALSO ATTENDED A CRAFT FAIR! 🙂
hats  craft fair
– I became a coach with Beachbody and focused on my health and nutrition during this pregnancy as well. It’s made a HUGE impact on my overall energy, activity levels with my kids, gaining a healthy amount of pregnancy weight, boosting my immune system, etc.
beachbody determinationbeachbody shakeology

For us, #5 – STAY BUSY, was the key to us all surviving this deployment. My husband was able to watch us being active – adventures to the pumpkin patch, zoo, animal farm, all my crafts, kids gardening, playground fun, carnivals, fairs, etc – and he was able to rest easy knowing that WE WERE OK and HAVING FUN!  Yes he was “physically” apart from us and that was sad, but we were still able to carry on, for all of our sake, and this took a huge weight off of his shoulders knowing that everything at the house and with the kids were taken care of. He could focus on work and everything going on where he was instead of having home-life distractions to worry about.

I’m sure there’s lots of other things I’m leaving out, but off the top of my head and in a nutshell, this is how we’ve (so far) managed to survive this deployment!