Friday, August 31, 2012

Dance Party

As we approach Labor Day weekend, I realize I have not finished my summer 60 checklist.  While some people consider Sept 1st the first day of fall, technically it is not until the 22nd, which is the date I am going by for my Stepanoff Summer Sixty "Due Date."  That being said, I have very few things left to do.  We are hoping to cross some of these off our list this long weekend, and hope to get the last bit done soon after.  

Here's what's left:
Ladder Golf
Fly a Kite
Dance Party
Slip n slide
Giant bubbles
Popcorn Balls
Trace Bodies
Tye Dye
Water Gun fight
Geocaching (though we've attempted over 4 times!)
Send a letter to family
Pina Coladas

I see us crossing off quite a few of these this weekend.  Perhaps a non-alcoholic pina colada will be in the works for a certain pregnant woman tonight.  Certain others will be crossed off very soon as well!  I'm looking forward to it.  

As we near the end of our fun, I compiled a video of all of the adventures we've had so far.  In the past few months, I've been compiling a few videos as well, so you will also see that I've crossed off one more thing from our list- Dancing!  Zach is quite the dancer if I do say so myself, and this video shows that.  Unfortunately, he's a bit camera shy with his skills, but I still got some good videos of him jamming out.  Thanks to everyone who's been following in our adventures this summer.  We've truly had a great time so far in our Summer Sixty!

Stepanoff Summer Sixty Checkoff:

Dance Party!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Typhoon Bolaven- a major dud!

This weekend we prepared and prepared for what was expected to be the worst typhoon in 13 years.  The photos and weather reports looked scary.  A category 4 typhoon the size of Texas headed directly at our tiny little island.  
Big and scary storm huh?  So we prepared as we always do before storms like this.  We secured all of our outdoor furniture, stocked up on water, and bought non perishable foods (which we never do!).  My biggest fear was losing all the freezer meals I've spent the last month on, so we bought extra ice to keep our freezer cold in case we did lose power for a long time.  
As the storm approached, the Military took extra precautions to prepare and protect our families here.  I cannot lie, they do a great job at doing so.  They have certain tropical condition readiness procedures for us all, AKA TCOR's.  From June 1- Nov 1, we are always in TCOR-4, which means that a storm could come in 72 hours.  As a storm approaches, we move up and up, until we reach TCOR-1E, which means there is a strong storm outside and we are not permitted outdoors.  As the storm approached, they moved us along the TCOR's as normal.  
Standard procedure suggests all pregnant women who are above 37 weeks to report to the hospital when we reach TCOR-1C, meaning the storm is very close.  This is to not only protect pregnant women, but also because when storms like this come, the pressure changes can cause a person to go into labor.  I wasn't sure if this would effect me or not, but on Friday afternoon I got the call.  They requested me at the hospital with linens, cash, and anything I may want to entertain myself while we were in emergency status.  I was not to bring anyone with me, and I would be stuck on a cot all day/night.  
Well guess what?  I didn't go.  I live right next to the hospital.  I did not want to be stuck in the hospital for a long period of time.  And if this storm was even close to as bad as they were predicting, I would worry about Dima and Zach the entire time.  I decided that if the time came for this emergency status, I would make the call.  When it came, I felt fine.  No contractions or signs that baby was making his appearance anytime soon.  I opted to stay with my boys instead.  I felt that if got forbid I were to go into labor, I could get down to the hospital in time.  Well the storm came and went, and no signs of labor came.  We still have just under 2 weeks until my scheduled c section, so will spend the next 13 days preparing to be a family of 4.  
As for the scary storm?  Not scary at all.  It barely did anything out there but rained!  Yes, we got some wind, but nothing too crazy.  I think we got a worse storm last May when a Category 1 hit us.  Rather safe then sorry, I'm happy nothing serious happened and there was no damage, but I am sad to have seen a wasted weekend.  Why do typhoons always come on weekends?  On the bright side, as the tail end of the storm hit us Monday, Dima didn't have to go into work.  
We spent our time riding out the storm indoors, watching veggie tails and hanging with our friends.  Saturday night, we decided to cross something off our list for this summer- a drinking game!  Though I can't drink, Dima can, and so can our friend, Jon.  We discussed a beer pong game, or quarters, but settled instead on the family guy drinking game (drink for different things.  Stewie and Brian sing a song- chug a beer).  After the family guy drinking game got old, we played Cranium again, but turned it into a drinking game.  Every time someone rolled, the boys had to drink.  Let's just say they had quite a few.  My recycling bin will make me look like a bad mom this week!  But all in all, we had fun playing, and darn it- the drunken boys beat the girls in the end!  
We rolled the dice.  Time to drink!  
So though the storm was un-eventful, we are happy to have had a nice weekend together!  

Celebrating the end of Jon's Master's degree with scotch.  Neko had to sit half on the couch with the guys!

Stepanoff Summer Sixty Checkoff:

Drinking game

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Little Bit of Heaven- on our house!

In today's world, Drive-in movie theaters are a thing of the past.  No more can you drive up and watch a movie outdoors or in the comfort of your own car.  It's a very sad thing, but luckily I am one of the few of my age that have gotten to experience the fun that a drive in entails.  So when making making my Summer Sixty, I wanted to try to re-create that American summer feeling here in Japan.  I knew just the idea... a backyard movie!  A movie projected onto the side of our house for all of us to watch together!  Perfect!  It may not be a drive in, but hey, close enough!
Zach is still too young for TV or movies, so this was a big people activity.  We put him down and Dima set up our movie.  We are lucky that he works with computers and was able to get a projector.  Unfortunately, it was not the right one and we were not able to watch HD on it.  We had rented a movie in HD, and as a result, were not able to watch it.  Instead, we opted for watching a DVD our friends had called "A Little Bit of Heaven."  The movie was O.K., but we had our hearts set on the Bachelorette movie. 
After the movie ended, we had to show our friend, Jon (who doesn't yet have kids of his own) just how crazy some kids shows are.  We showed him one of the craziest ones we know- Yo Gabba Gabba.  I swear this show is the creepiest thing I've ever seen.  I really think you need to be on something to understand it.  Or under the age of 2 I guess.  There is singing and dancing by make believe monsters and some really weird things throughout.  I honestly think this was the best part of our backyard movie night.  We all were cracking up watching this kid show on the side of a house at 10pm!  It's the little things in life...
Tried to watch this movie, but it didn't work.
Yo Gabba Gabba!

They were cracking up the whole 5 minutes we watched this

Some crazy psychadillic stuff!

I guess we listen to cones?

I don't know what is coming out of this chick's ear
And so, even though we didn't get to drive up to a movie, parking our lawn furniture on the side of our house is close enough! 

Stepanoff Summer Sixty Checkoff:

Backyard Movie

Happy Birthday Daddy!

My wonderful husband had a birthday today.  I will not say how old he is (though he's still a youngin I promise!), I will say that it was his day and he got to choose what we wanted to do.  I left all food and activities up to him for the day and he chose a full day of fun. 
He started out the morning with a dive with a friend in the early morning while Mommy and Zach hung at home.  He had a great dive and had fun doing it.  Next on his list was wanting to go to church with his family.  And so we packed up the car and headed to a quick service.  Our next step was a lunch at home.  The original plan was to have a picnic, but it's August in Okinawa.  It was over 110 degrees out plus some humidity (not to mention I'm 9 months pregnant).  That was not such a great idea either.  So we hung inside instead.  Next on the list?  Work.  No this was not something he wanted to do on his birthday (on a sunday) but alas, the Marine Corps doesn't wait.  After he returned, we got to have cake with some friends.  As always, Dima requested a funfetti cake so I made a double layer.  For someone who HATES baking with a passion, it came out pretty decent.  
Dima really wanted to head to the ferris wheel that is part of our view from our home.  The last time we went, I had just found out I was pregnant with Zach, so it's been awhile.  Dima was excited to bring Zach for the ride.  Zach enjoyed it and so did the rest of us.  It was very hot, but we had fun anyway.
We ended our night by going out to sushi together.  We were lucky to go on a popular night, because that's when they usually have the good stuff out.  We both had a lot of broiled tuna and enjoyed some of the other unique sushi's that only Japan offers.  It will be sad to move back to America and miss out on the amazing sushi that we get here!  This was probably our last date night before baby is born.  We really needed it, as things have been absolutely crazy and stressful over the past month for both of us.  We had a great day together (what time we got to spend together that is) and I'm thrilled he had a good birthday.  Happy Birthday, Love.  We all love you so very much!
Dima's Man Basket

The view from the ferris wheel

That's our house way back on that hill!

Look at those eyes!

My favorite boys!

Here Mama, I'll take a picture

He was fascinated playing with everything

Friday, August 17, 2012

3 Strikes and you're a pro!

When I was a kid we used to go bowling often.  The rule was that whoever got the first strike was king/queen of the day.  It was always a toss up on who would get it and it ended up being pure luck.  We had fun bowling as kids.  We were able to drink soda for a change (which I cringe at now!), have pizza, and have fun with our family.  It was a fun family activity that I look back at now and smile.  My appreciation for bowling has stuck, though I don't indulge in pizza or soda anymore, I do still enjoy going every once and awhile for kicks.  Luckily, Dima loves it too.  So we were excited to bring Zach with us for his first ever bowling trip.  I know he's a bit young, but this sounded like way too much fun to pass up with him. I want to enjoy so many firsts with him, and this was one I was very excited to experience together.  They have bumpers for kids his age, and these metal things that the child can just push the ball down with.  That way they don't ever have to carry the heavy ball!  We laced our bowling shoes (yes even little man) and began Zach's first ever bowling game!
Aren't those the cutest little shoes?

Cute little feet
Ready to bowl his first time

Push the ball...

Wait for it...
STRIKE!  Yep.  Zach's first first time rolling the ball down and he gets a strike.  He officially became King of the day (which is no different from every day).  I could not believe my eyes.  My 18 month old got a strike.  The rest of the game continued much the same.  We were both so distracted watching him, that we did not focus nearly enough on our own game.  Needless to say, Mommy lost with flying colors.  Zach beat me by a whole 20 points.  In all fairness, I had a 5 pound bowling ball in my tummy and was distracted by the little boy playing behind me as I bowled.  Still, he crushed me and I'm not ashamed to say it.  A very proud Mommy, indeed!  
Crushing both of us here...

He had a lot of fun playing with the balls!

The end Score.  Zach killed me!  
We had a lot of fun playing and I look forward to doing it again.  Hopefully not with a bowling ball of my own in my belly!  In the meantime, I will continue to be baffled by my son's bowling abilities!

Stepanoff Summer Sixty Checkoff:


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Face Painting

Though I carry very little artistic talent, Arts and Crafts has always been a special interest to me.  Art is an extremely important aspect of child development.  It not only increases brain activity in toddlers, but it nurtures inventiveness.  What better way to foster a child's development then by raising self-esteem through while something?  And so, when making my Summer Sixty list, I knew I had to include some crafts now that Zach is older.  We've done a few of these crafts already, but still had a few to cross off.  And so, this afternoon when we got bored, it was straight to something creative... Face Painting!  
I didn't have any face paint, and decided instead of buying some I'd make it myself.  I mixed food coloring with some lotion to make it.  We used Sweet pea (daddy's favorite) so we smelled good while we painted!  Zach had a blast doing this.  Every time I put lotion on in the house he begs me for some, so he was thrilled to get to play with lots of it!  Let's just say we got a bit dirty in the process!  But it was so much fun in the process!  
Ready to paint!

Just getting started

Gotta rub it in the hair!

This is awesome!

Nope- doesn't taste as good as it smells!

OK- I'm dirty enough!
Stepanoff Summer Sixty Checkoff:

Face Painting

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

nesting- freezer meals

Can you believe we are already less than four weeks from meeting Baby Step #2?  Of course, I could always go into labor early and it could be sooner, too!  I am shocked with how quick this one has gone by compared to my past pregnancy.  Of course, I've got a bald toddler to keep up with these days!  In any case, I am spending these final weeks preparing and preparing for the craziness that is about to be my life.  Having two kids under 2 years old is not going to be a joke, and I can bet the next year will be tough.  I do not regret choosing to have my kiddos so close in age, but gosh am I terrified right now!
As we near my c-section date (Sept 10th in the early morning) I have done much to prepare.  I have almost finished the nursery (photos to come soon) and am very excited with how it has turned out.  I just have to finish decorating it and will show it off!  I am excited to share photos of it!  It looks so great!  I have also gotten all of Zach's old clothes and things out for his little brother.  Baby brother will be just as cute and stylish as Zach was as a baby.  I look forward to reminiscing on outfits Zach wore.  I have even partially packed my bags for the hospital.  I have just about everything packed up, but will have to add quite a lot last minute when it's time to go.  Luckily, even if I do go into labor, I have some time to throw it all together before making the 30 second drive to the hospital.  
I have even set up Zach's childcare for while we are gone.  We are lucky to have a great friend with a boy Zach's age.  She has already babyproofed her home (she also has an adorable 2 month old boy!  Her kids are the same age apart as my boys will be) so that's one less thing to worry about while he's there.  She also already has all of the necessary things that a baby may need, so no need to lug over tons of supplies.  We are very grateful for her help, and will be providing her with lots of food and snacks for the boys and her.  I think Zach will eat her out of house and home if we didn't!
One of the things I've worked hard on in the past few weeks of preparing is freezer meals.  This is a relatively new concept for many people.  Basically, it is a meal that is ready to throw together quickly.  Everything is already chopped and measured out (which always takes me the longest), all that needs to be done is to cook it.  Most of the meals are crock pot meals, that I will be able to just throw into the crockpot in the morning.  I know things will be crazy for awhile in our adjustment to having 2 boys, so this will be one less thing to worry about.  
In my research on freezer meals and arrangement of them all, i've learned a lot.  I've learned about the shelf life of freezer meals (most can last up to about 6 months!), and most importantly I've learned that I  LOVE freezer meals!  I haven't yet made any of these meals, but the idea behind them is genius.  I even found one woman who does this once a month, and lives off those foods for a month!  She cooks once a month and then has more time to spend with her family during the rest of the month!  What a great idea!  Unfortunately, with the kinds of foods we eat, that's a bit more difficult for us to do.  But for the most part, I plan on adopting this new style of cooking into my routine, even far away from now. 
And now, without further ado, I share with you my meals.  I will be making about 5-7 more of these in the next few weeks and hope to share them as well!  
The whole bottom shelf and part of the top have freezer meals!

That's a lot of meals!

And i'm not done yet!
Here's the round up:

Balsamic Chicken
Cilantro lime Shrimp
Mini turkey meatloaves
Chicken Nuggets (for the boy)
Chicken Soup (5 of them, you never know if someone is going to get sick!)
Chicken Enchilada Stew
Savory Chicken
Cilantro lime vinaigrette
Tuna Tomato Sauce
Greek Chicken
Cilantro lime Chicken

I will be focusing the next few weeks on more freezer meals.  I will be doubling my dinners for freezer meals, making waffles, and making a few marinade bags.  Did you know you can freeze chicken in a marinade and then just de-thaw it the day you're going to cook it?  As it de-thaws, it marinades!  We love marinading chicken.  Every Sunday night we have chicken and veggies and the left over chicken is used on salads and in sandwiches during the week.  I will try to post the finished product that is our freezer.  Boy do I wish I had a deep freezer right about now!  If we extend, I may have to buy one soon!

Comment/Message me if you want any of these recipes.  They are all gluten, grain, dairy, and sugar free.  They are also mostly organic.  Basically, they're Paleo and very healthy!  Only the healthiest ingredients for my family! 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Keeping busy throughout the cold!

We have spent the last week cooped up in the house due to a bad cold.  First Zach caught it during a typhoon, then Mommy caught it just as bad.  So we took the chance to relax around the house for the week.  We never even left the house for at least 6 days!  But luckily, it is gone now and we are back to normal!  
Just because we were trapped in the house for days on end doesn't mean we didn't take the chance to have some fun, however.  Oh no.  Being stuck in the house is a perfect excuse to curl up with my boy and take advantage of indoor activities!
We had many pajama days!  Here Zach is in the morning while he was sick with his breakfast

Typhoon days always become pajama days!  This time daddy got to join us!

Who doesn't love playing in a box? 

This is why we order so much from Amazon!

With Dada

Bathtub paint.  He was very confused.

He loved it though!

Mohawk boy!  If only he had hair!


When Mommy started to feel better, we had a bon fire with some friends

Did you know August 10th was national smores day?  We couldn't resist some yummy smores!

Zach got a new grill to play with.  Now he can be just like daddy!  If only he had a beer in his hand!

Neko was helping him make some chicken for dinner!
Being sick with a toddler while pregnant is no fun at all.  Though I wasn't able to take much to ease my cold, I managed through a tough week.  I am happy to report that we are all better now and ready to have some fun in our final weeks before baby!

Stepanoff Summer Sixty Checkoff:

Pajama day
Bathtub Paint

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Farmer's Market

Living all the way in Japan, we miss out on many of the yummy fruits and veggies you all get in America.  For example, apples are normally around $3.50 a pound.  I once paid 12 dollars for a bag of grapes.  Half the things in our commissary are going bad or are already bad when they reach the shelves.  I often times go into the store with a long list and come out with many things not crossed off.  It makes it very hard to meal plan and even harder to be healthy!
On the bright side of things, we have Japanese stores to go to.  Now there are many ups and downs to Japanese stores.  They only have what is in season, which is a good thing because that means it wasn't shipped here from who knows where.  They also sell food that is much smaller then we're used to in America.  Everything is smaller in Japan.  Peppers are these tiny little things compared to the American ones.  We must also pay the exchange rate, which is pretty low these days.  There are times that it's cheaper to just buy at the grocery, but then there are times when it's worth it to buy at the Japanese stores.  In any case, it's a place we like going every once in awhile at least.  
So this weekend we headed out to one of the more popular farmer's markets.  It's got one of the best varieties I've seen, but is usually pretty picked over by the afternoon, when we went.  I'll have to go to a better one in the near future.  Our friend, Alicia, joined us and we all packed our carts with Japanese foods!
outside the market they have lots of great food!
I've never seen the market this packed!
6,000 yen for 5 mangoes.  That's equal to about $65-$70!  No, I'm not stupid enough to buy them!

Fish heads for dinner anyone?
Our loot- 2 bags of  sweet potatoes (purple and orange, zach loves homemade chips!), cukes, chiles, basil, peppers, bean sprouts, and mommy wanted to get some flowers just because!

Zach at the checkout counter.  I love these little carts!
We finished the trip with a trip to the egg farm for more eggs!  We've already had many great meals from these items.  I made a yummy yellowfin tuna yakisoba (ok maybe not soba, as i replaced the noodle portion with bean sprouts!) this week already for dinner and Dima's been eating lots of cucumber salad!  

Stepanoff Summer Sixty checkoff:

Farmer's Market