Monday, May 25, 2015

memorial day

Taking time today, especially, to pause and reflect on the valiant men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of freedom and for the greatest nation on Earth. To those who have gone before, and all who love them, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. You are not forgotten.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

guest post: Making a Difference through Volunteering

Today, Valerie from Caliber Collision is taking over to share about the importance of volunteering. My favorite volunteer event so far was when Big Girl and I celebrated Christmas with children at a Japanese children's home. What's your favorite way to volunteer?

Princess Diana said, “Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.”  Having a heart for serving others is one of the things I remember most about Princess Di.  Even when it was the unpopular choice, she fought for issues close to her heart, including people affected with HIV or AIDS and areas impacted by landmines.  She fundraised for issues she felt passionately about, and she also traveled to serve firsthand the causes and people she was advocating for.  She led the crusade for those who were less fortunate, and she taught us all how to love one another.

Even though everyone cannot travel to an underprivileged country to raise awareness for an issue close to our hearts or organize million dollar fundraising events, we can all do something.  To me, one of the most beautiful aspects of volunteering is that your volunteering efforts can be tailored to your current stage of life.  For children, watering a neighbor’s plants is a wonderful way to give back.  For young adults, working a charity event or mentoring a child are beyond beneficial to your community.  For parents, assisting at your child’s school is an important way to serve.  For retirees, helping out at a library or soup kitchen is a significant contribution to your city.  A volunteer opportunity is available for you right where you are, no matter your age or occupation.

Everyone has a different talent to offer, and no matter the size of your contribution, every act of kindness makes a difference.  Baking cookies to deliver to firefighters is just as important as sponsoring a golf tournament for underprivileged children.  Volunteering is about giving back to your community and those in need, and everyone has an opportunity to serve.  A significant part of society relies on helping one another during times of need, and you never know when you will be on the receiving end of volunteer efforts.  If everyone made an effort to give back no matter the size of your contribution, the world would easily be a better place.

No age is too young to start volunteering.  Since children learn from their parents’ actions, we need to have them involved in our own volunteer efforts starting at a young age.  It could be as simple as buying food to take to a food pantry, coloring pictures for nursing home residents, or taking a meal to a sick neighbor, but the most important aspect is for our children to see us volunteering our time and efforts and to involve them in the process.  Your influence on your child starts when they are born, not when they are 6 or 12, and as parents, we need to start teaching our children the importance of giving back.

Delivering a meal to a sick friend or sitting with a nursing home resident might not seem like you are changing society, but to the people you are assisting, these small acts of kindness make all the difference in the world.  Small acts of kindness brighten people’s day and give them hope, and by volunteering, you are changing society for the better…one small act of kindness at a time.

Valerie handles media relations for Caliber Collision, and in her spare time, she enjoys swimming, traveling, baking, and playing with her puppy, Emma.  Some of her favorites include Taylor Swift, Coke Zero, and The Good Wife, and she enjoys living life to the fullest but also making time to enjoy the small moments.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

blog everyday in may: day 13

Today's Blog Everyday in May prompt is, what advice would you give someone about to graduate college? 

We have a college graduation coming up next spring and it's been 6 years since I graduated myself (almost to the day). Here are some tidbits current me would have passed on to 22-year-old me. 

Don't freak out about your future. It will all work out even though it doesn't feel like it sometimes. You will make a choice about grad school, you will find a job/house/etc. 

Relationships are fleeting--and that's okay. When you're in the bubble of college, live with all your friends, and see them all the time you feel certain that you will all be BFFs for life. But the reality is that, most times, life gets away from you. People move different directions, some get married, some have kids, some are off jet-setting--before you know it, way more time has passed between taking than you ever thought possible. But the good news is that reunions are often the greatest!

Also, your college sweetheart may or may not be someone you end up marrying--it's okay either way! 

You might not know what you want to be when you grow up for a long time. You will more than likely find a job. It probably won't be your dream job, might not be related too closely to your major, and will probably have terrible pay. BUT everyone has to start somewhere. Use the time to pick up all the skills you can and think about what drives you. 

Found Love. Now What?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

baby | 10 months

This update is a month late, but not too bad considering we had an international move just under a month ago! ;)
Ten month stats--

Weight: 12lb 9oz (according to the mall scale)
Length: not sure, but she can still fit in her 3-6mo pajamas and 0-6mo swaddle blanket so...
Nicknames: Bug, Buggie, Bugaboo, Peanut Girl, Angel Girl
Sleep: Nighttime sleep was mostly regular and back to longer stretches (745pm-4/5am), thankfully. Naps have been staying pretty consistent, with her lying down to sleep two-three hours after waking, and sleeping anywhere from 30-90 minutes. 
Eating: She loves eating! Baby-led weaning is still working out great for us. She has at least one snack and one big solid meal per day (dinner). She is still nursing 7-8 times a day and I am so glad we've made it this far!
Clothing: Still in 3-6mo clothes with a few 6mo items fitting. She's just petite!
Mood: Generally happy but definitely experiencing separation anxiety. She "talks" all the time and "mama" is still her most used word. We introduced a few sign language words and she knows and uses "milk" and "more" daily--she loves to eat!
- Rolling around versus trying to crawl
- Reading books
- Playing with musical toys and "dancing" (she sways AND bounces now and it's adorable)
- Listening to bluegrass with Daddy
- Watching Big Sis do anything at all
- "Helping" Mama cook from her perch in the sling
- Being set down on the floor lying down if she wants to sit or "walk" 
- Mom walking away from her (unless she's super distracted)
- Strangers holding her (or trying to touch her)
- Tummy time, still, which has impeded her crawling abilities
What I want to remember/Milestones: 
- She's getting more social everyday and it's the most fun thing to watch.
- She is soaking up so much information all the time and her tiny brain is a total sponge. It's amazing to see how fast she is learning things already. 
- She's not crawling just yet, just taking her sweet time, but I know it will come in time. Mobility will surely spell trouble (especially for the dog).
- She had her first trip to the aquarium (Big Sis's field trip), first train ride (to Aomori City), her first Easter, and first hotel stay (during our move)!
- I want to remember how tiny she is, and her toothless grin. I want to remember how she curls up in my lap when she nurses and puts her hand on my chest or pats me. I want to remember how sweet it is when she falls asleep in my arms. I want to remember how she pats my shoulder when she wakes up in the morning and smiles super big when she realizes I'm awake too. I want to remember how she buries her face in my neck when strangers try to talk to her. I want to remember how fascinated she gets by everything that's new to her (and how she puts every.single.thing in her mouth).
What I'm looking forward to: 
- Her realizing she has the ability to be mobile beyond rolling around the house. 
- Planning her first birthday and photo shoot--I've been looking around etsy for outfit/decor ideas!
- Her learning more words/signs and becoming even more interactive.
- All the fun things that are yet to come!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Blog everyday in May: day 10

Today is Mother's Day and it's my first official one as a "real" mom. This time last year my due date was two months away and I was still dreaming about the type of baby the wiggly girl in my belly would become. We didn't realize then that we only had one month of waiting left! 

From the moment I went into labor, our little Bug flipped my world upside down. Yes, I have been mothering since 2010, but it's a completely different experience when the little person comes from you. 

The past 11 months of motherhood have been, above all else, incredibly humbling. The newborn phase was tough on me and it took me about four months to realize I had a pretty intense case of the post-baby blues. Additionally, transitioning suddenly from a 40-hour/week job to 24/7/365 motherhood was jarring, exhausting, and terrifying all at once. I had never been so tired, stressed, or frazzled.

Everything was so foreign, she was so tiny, and then colic. The absolute worst thing to endure when you are already running on E in every way! It was months of inconsolable screaming with no clear cause and no end in sight. We tried everything and the day it ended felt like a miracle. (If you have never had the joy of a colicky baby, count your lucky stars!)

Then, I learned that my girl is super clingy and very much a "mama's girl." This has meant that we've been joined at the hip nearly her whole life--literally--in my arms, in the wrap, in the sling, etc. There might be a permanent indentation in the shape of her cloth-diapered bottom. ;) Some days it's really hard and some days I wish I could freeze time. Motherhood is funny that way. I never understood how true the saying "the days are long but the years are short" was until the day Bug was born.

I am just thankful that she's so petite so I can remain in denial that time has to keep passing. ;) 

Found Love. Now What?
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