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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Two and a Half Years Young


Gabriel is a quiet and gentle spirit. He's an internal processor like his daddy and a heavy-duty observer before he's a participant. He wears his heart on his sleeve like his mama, is compassionate and caring but also stubborn like both his parents. His perfectionism can trigger mama's hot headedness so thank goodness he also carries Christopher's mellow demeanor. He enjoys calm activities like jigsaw puzzles, books, and play-doh and thrives off routine. So much of his personality is already quite visibly a reflection of our (Chris and mine) own behavior which holds us accountable to our words and actions more than I ever imagined. There is a strong desire within him to have independence, as I imagine is burning within every 2 year old, so we are challenged daily to honor, foster and direct that in appropriate ways that satisfies both of our needs. We get glimpses of his desire to wrestle around with Brenik and look forward to watching that play relationship develop. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

5 Months Old! (Brenik)


I'll cut to the chase, the highlight of this month (one of the most exciting moments of his life, let's be real) is that Brenik started sleeping straight through the night! Not an adult 8hrs kind of straight through the night but a textbook baby 12-13hr straight sleep! At the beginning of January he slept through the night and Chris and I didn't know what to do with ourselves, we didn't get our hopes up but then it happened again! After three straight nights of uninterrupted sleep I was reminded of something I read awhile back on how babies between 4-6 months will start sleeping through the night but then try to go back to nursing and you're advised not to. The idea is that baby already showed you he doesn't need to eat to make it through the night so don't make nursing at night a habit. Sure enough after about a week of sleeping through the night around 2am he started fussing around. We decided not to go grab him unless our parental instincts told us something was wrong so he fussed on and off for 20 minutes before falling back asleep until morning. The proceeding nights he was back to sleeping straight through. As mentioned before, so thankful for how the time and energy that has gone into a consistent routine has paid off in spades! Naps however are not as perfect. When naps are taken at home they're great, out and about is the problem. He's down to three naps now so we try to get 2 of the 3 solid at home in his room.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Box Bottom Drawstring Bag Tutorial

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What's a box bottom bag? One that sits up by its self! Drawstring bags can be a fun way to package a gift and when done yourself can be entirely customizable to shape, size, and height! Sometimes, the most appropriate gift bag (or most esthetically appealing) is one that can sit up on its own which requires a stable bottom (scroll drown to see picture). The following is a tutorial on how to make a drawstring bag roughly 8" tall with a bottom 4.5"x4.5". Here's what you'll need:
  • 2 pieces of main (outside) and 2 pieces of fabric for the lining both measuring 10" by 9"
  • 2 pieces of twine (string, ribbon) measuring 28"
  • matching thread and sewing accessories
  • safety pin

Saturday, January 24, 2015

A Day with the Royals!

Okay, I'll admit that was misleading. By royals I meant the Imperial family though I recently read that Prince William will be in Japan next month, maybe that will be a future blog post?

The Imperial family is most commonly compared to the royal family of England. The Emperor used to control the country like a president but is now a figurehead. Twice a year the Imperial family makes an appearing to the public, on the Emperor's birthday and January 2nd, both of which we've never been in Japan for. With our early arrival to Japan we sieged the opportunity and took a trip up to Tokyo to see the family for our self!

Since we anticipated a large crowd we decided to embrace the Japanese way by forgoing the mammoth stroller and travel only with the SollyBaby Wrap and Toddler Tula. This was our first large outing without a stroller my life line. Going sans stroller is pretty out of my comfort zone especially now with two litters but I took one for the team and moved past my anxieties. Not to get ahead of myself with sharing about our day but flash forward a few hours to when we're sardined with thousands of people taking shuffle steps no longer than an inch we noticed a special expedited pathway for those with stroller. Dang it. Anyways...

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Two to Four Months

-two months-
When Gabriel was a baby and I heard that mamas could put their babies to bed awake and they'd actually fall asleep sweetly on their own, I thought it was all lies... It is actually possible! Like I've mentioned before, sleep was downright awful with Gabriel so we vowed to humble ourselves, seek out advice from parents we respected who had good sleepers, and read different books. Well, truth be told it's working. Going to sleep is a piece of cake for this kid but we're still working on transitioning through naps. Over the last couple months we have have made progress, have moved past the 25-30 mark and get at least 1 super good nap during the day. The last couple months we've encouraged him to keep sleeping by going in to rock him while humming amazing grace until he settled down (still awake, just calm) then we'd lay him back to bed, kiss his head and hope he goes back to sleep. Some times he did, sometimes we needed to do this 2,3,4 times. It was a lot of work, sometimes with tears but since getting to Japan we haven't felt it necessary and our hard work is paying off. At two months he seemed so incredibly close to sleeping through the night. He had slept through the night once and an hour from it a couple times but typically woke around 3am-4am to nurse before getting up at 7am. This continued right up to 4 months.

Brenik is a great nurser, sometimes he chose to be a major flirt instead- he'll latch, take a little drink, then start cooing up a storm. I couldn't help but smile at him and giggle which just fed the flirting frenzy. Sadly though at this point we're confident that Brenik has a sensitivity/allergy to any and all forms of dairy as well as eggs. When I consume any of it he gets eczema on his cheeks, elbows and inner thighs. It's been hard for me to wrap my mind around not eating any of these foods for 1-2 years. I wish I knew more about all of this but medical care is a bit finicky here for us so it's most likely going to have to wait until late spring. Speaking of nutrition, at his 2 month appointment he came in at the 90th percentile for both height and weight, as if that should be a surprise. Poor kid didn't handle the immunizations nearly as well as Gabriel (Gabe held his ears looking super concerned the whole time about what was happening to his brother), and desired to be held for most of the following 24 hours. His full tongue inclusion tie still is no issue when it comes to nursing but we're at a point now where we wished we had known more about it when he was born because now we both feel strongly about getting it clipped... and we're in Japan. I think what hit me was that kids who have a tie as sever as Brenik's won't be able to lick an ice cream cone, so sad! Obviously there are other more serious reasons but that one for some reason struck a cord.

-four months-
His eyes are blue! BLUE! How did that happen twice in a row? Yes I have blue eyes but with Chris' brown I thought we got lucky with Gabe. Oh man, at two months I was thinking that I was finally going to have a baby with rolls on his legs, but that didn't last long. He's tall and at 2 months seemed a lot more sturdy than Gabriel, Gabe was strong but always seemed long and lean, but now I feel like their builds are comparable. At two months despite little tummy time (when he wasn't nursing, burping, or getting a diaper changed he was sleeping...) his upper body strength according to the doctor was a few months advanced. Still no rolling over but he's a crazy wiggle worm! I never know where in the crib he's going to be after a nap or in the middle of the night. One evening my heart sank because I couldn't find him. He was of course there but moved really far down and to the side of the crib- not where I was looking or expecting to find him in the dark.

Little man was officially out of 3 month cloths  at two months and out of 6 month clothes at 4 months, he's currently wearing 9-12months. I love seeing all of Gabriel's old clothes again, some are looking pretty loved though and probably won't be seeing a third child. There are also pieces that didn't work well with Gabriel but I held on to them assuming they'd work for another child... nope. Those pieces are obviously out. Last year I forgot all of my clothes when packing for Japan, this year I forgot Brenik's jackets. I remember pulling them out and putting them aside a month-ish before leaving but I guess they never made it to a suitcase. Taking bets now on what super important item I'll forget next year when we travel.

We are having so much fun having a baby again but are also really looking forward to Brenik being old enough to play with Gabriel. We see glimpses of it here and there and Gabriel is definitely ready. Poor Gabriel gets sent to his room more times for being too rough with Brenik than anything else. Gabe's love for his brother so obviously grows daily. When we're out and about and the Japanese talk to Gabriel, he eventually gets around to pointing at 'Bren-kin' and talking about him as if he's showing off his brother. Yes, he calls him Brenkin and we now do so as well, it's going to be that family pet name I'm sure. If you ask Gabe to say 'Bren' and then 'Nik' he does just fun but putting the two together always so lovingly becomes Brenkin.

Brenik has been such a God send to us during our time of transition here in Japan. Through all the crazy, stress, and high emotions he has unwaveringly been a true delight always filled with so much joy and laughter. I cannot put into words our thankfulness that the Lord chose and gifted him into our family, he truly makes it better.

 photo July2014signature_zps83220af5.jpg

Monday, December 29, 2014


It's no secret that the Japanese love their noodles, what you might not know is that they seriously have a museum for everything. For four years now we've been aware of, and have walked by, the Cup of Noodle museum with little to know interest in visiting. Sure I enjoyed Cup of Noodles as a kid but a museum? Plus it always appeared to be very quiet and totally empty, aka boring. Nevertheless we have seen quite a bit of the area over the years and the Cup of Noodle museum would be something new for us, plus a bonus for Gabriel was that it required both a train and subway ride! 

I think a train ride has the capability of fixing all of Gabe's two-year-old worries and problems right now. The ride to Yokohama is about an hour and Gabriel spent almost the entire time perked up on his seat looking out the window as shown below. He'd talk about what he was seeing out the window and mimic the sounds of the train. Every time we stopped he'd ask, "train all done?" And when we told him not yet he'd say, "train again!" The train is typically my reading time if I don't get too distracted with people watching or looking at all the advertisements. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas In Japan

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The beginning of December is a strange time to make a move. It's right after Thanksgiving but before the big Christmas push. Our house sitters kindly asked if they could have access to our christmas things and we did them one better by actually decorating before we left. Gabriel had a blast and since we weren't sure what decorating would look like in Japan we were glad we did it. 

We decided that we wanted to pack our stockings and our most special Christmas ornaments and we knew that we had a little tree waiting for us left by some friends last year. The rest would be crafted or supplied by the 100yen store because we didn't want to spend much money. 

Gabriel and I made a paper chain, some pom pom garland and decorated a washi tree in addition to the 2' Christmas tree and stockings. I also made a quick little tree skirt with a piece of fabric and some pom-pom ribbon from the Daiso (100yen / $1.00 store). It's minimal but it's ours. 


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