We walked for miles, played in the water, watched little fishies in the tide pools, and collected sea glass. The trains were fairly empty, thanks to an earlier start then usual. We snacked on who knows what from the mini mart on the way home, and spent the rest of the day happily relaxing in the AC.
Yesterday, after I’d had my pep talk from my neighbor and a little push of encouragement from my husband, I decided to go on the day trip my friend and I had planned. A train ride to Kurihama Flower World, which we had picked because it was an outside attraction and free.
Although I made it all the way across base before I noticed that I hadn’t actually buckled Margaux into the stroller, that was the only hiccup – the girls sat nicely while we walked up Blue Street to the Yokosuka-Chuo station, stayed near me while we waited for the train, and Nemmi made friends with an older lady, who very kindly played with her and made sure she was safe while I held Margaux.
We did get lost trying to find our destination, but even that was fun – my babies fell asleep and Jenn and I chatted while we walked.
And then – we found it! Beautiful poppy fields with walkways in between, a shaded walk to the famous Godzilla slide and a park with three levels of slides – it was awesome! The girls were so excited that they were running in opposite directions, wanting to try everything while I tried not to yell at them to “GET OVER HERE NOW!” Mostly successful, and I’m good with that.
All in all, we were outside walking around and exploring for more than 6 hours. We came home with only one meltdown and were so happy to step into our air-conditioned apartment and watch Finding Nemo two times in a row. I’m so glad that I went.
Today a wonderful, wonderful woman came and saved me right when I was falling apart. I had high hopes for today. A friend and I had planned a trip to the mall down the street to find some craft supplies and strawberry cheesecake Kit-Kats. I took the girls out on their bikes to the park by our tower right before we left. We walked for about 25 minutes and stopped at the park right outside the mall. I gave them snacks. I was SO prepared. And they still whined the whole time. I bought them a cookie. They finished that and kept whining. I bought them lollipops. They chomped those up quick and said, “Out! Out! Out! Out! Out!” At least a million times they repeated that word while I tried to fit my double stroller through the aisles and keep them from grabbing jars with baby jellyfish and candy and glass bowls. I let Niahmaya out, and while she walked right next to me nicely, Margaux whined and cried. When I let both of them out, Margaux started pulling candy from the shelves and Niahmaya tried to wander away. (Keep in mind that my friend’s 3 year old was quietly sitting in his stroller, sucking on the same lollipop from 15 minutes ago.) By the time we got back to the base, both girls were crying for lunch, despite the snacks I had packed and even though it was literally 1 minute past their normal lunch time).
So anyway, my morning with my lovely daughters passes and they nap and I get to workout and relax and we watch a movie, and then I think, “Hey, you know what the girls would like? I should let them walk to the NEX with me so I can get some face soap and then we will go to the park!” They love walking to the NEX. We always go and give hugs to the baby dolls and play with everything that can be played with while remaining on the shelf. They do great in the toy aisle, downright angels. And then we head over to look at sunglasses and suddenly everyone is trying to pull necklaces down from displays, play hide-and-seek, and just generally not listen to what I have to say. Same story in the face wash aisle. I think, “Ok, we just need to finish up here and leave and once we are outside they will listen and we can go to the park.” I’m trying to keep calm. I’m trying to use my Nice But Serious Mommy voice. I’m trying not to yank them when I’m walking one way and they decide to go in the opposite direction. I’m trying not to think people are judging me for not having my children under control. Outside goes no better and I’m repeating myself over and over again, “Come this way. No, not toward the street. Hold hands while we cross the street. Margaux, don’t touch that.” Niahmaya just has to be held and Margaux is DEAD-SET on standing in one spot.
I have tears welling and I hear someone say, “Do you need help? Let me help you.” Normally I would say no. But I know her from church and she actually lives in my tower, so I didn’t argue when she picked up Margaux and asked if I was ok. I started bawling and telling her how frustrated I was, thinking about all the fun places to explore in Japan and feeling like I just can’t get through it because of the girls. And she said some wonderful things, about my job being my family and making sure I raise my kids, not just exploring Japan. She reminded me that Japan, while awesome, is just Japan, and I can’t do everything by myself that I would normally do with my husband. That I will have time for that when he is back, when it’s more than just me trying to fight the train station crowd and fit through tiny aisles, and that I need to try different ways of traveling with the girls to see what might work better, what will make it more possible to visit the places I want to visit.
I know I will still do some exploring just the three of us, but I might give myself more time to just really get used to being alone with the girls all the time. She said to just let her know anytime I needed help and told me which apartment she was in, and reminded me that she had been in the same situation as me, and that there was always someone to help. So I think I will make it until bedtime tonight, and then melt into an exhausted puddle on the couch. And probably go to bed dreaming of cinnamon rolls, because tomorrow is Sugar Day.
I felt like we would just be marking time, but, funnily enough, life doesn’t stop just because your best friend is gone. We are exploring, playing, and readjusting to this period. I am learning to not just distract myself with Instagram and Pinterest when I start to feel stressed, but also to take a break when I need one, before I lose my cool. The girls kiss our wedding picture when we go in our room, “Bye, Dada.” I’ve been able to email with Him during his lunch break and he is doing well and enjoying the experience.
Here are our small moments:
Yesterday was our first official day without my better half.
I went to church only because I wanted a break from the girls, and mostly stayed tear-free the whole time. We stocked up on snacks to mail our Sailor and played at the park before going out into Yokosuka for the street festival. The street and sidewalk was crowded on Blue Street, Nemmi napped and Margaux was happy watching the people push past us while we made slower progress.
My writing feels bland – the less I talk about my feelings, the better…but pictures make every post better!
On Saturday we took the train to Kamakura. After battling through crowded train cars, crowded train stations, and crowded sidewalks in Tokyo two weekends prior, we decided to follow the example set by locals and leave our double stroller at home. Margaux was buckled into a tiny umbrella stroller and we figured we would let Niahmaya walk or take turns carrying her. Great plan, right?
Wait. I forgot to mention that the front gate is a 15-minute walk from our apartment. And that the train station is a 20-minute walk from there, if you can travel at the normal speed of a human. Toddlers do not travel at the normal speed of humans. Toddlers straight-up dawdle. I do not know how she could move so slowly and still be going forward. Unless she happened to spot a flower (“a pow-per!”) and then it was warp speed ahead. Also, 2-year-olds, no matter how much they protest, still need naps. So do 1-year-olds. Niahmaya ended up sleeping in the tiny umbrella stroller and Margaux snored away in my arms.
But we made it to Kamakura, successfully keeping both children on the train while we sat in the station with a delay, made a beeline for the ice cream shop, and spent a quick 20 minutes exploring the temple grounds. And throwing rocks. I would say it was good experience in being patient and keeping our cool, and perhaps gave Ethan reasons to be excited about port visits where he will be able to explore with no babies to baby :) But we are not like the locals – only twice have I seen a Japanese toddler make a fuss. I don’t know how they do it – all these small children, sitting quietly on the train, not banging on the windows, not poking the people next to them. Hopefully we will be able to go back in a more relaxed fashion soon – there was an entire (tiny) store FULL of nothing but Totoro! Totoro chopsticks, Totoro bowls, Totoro pushing a wheelbarrow with flowers growing inside. That will be the first place we take Julie.
I wanted to give you a quick tour of our apartment. This space is growing on me. We might paint a wall. I have yet to figure out how to hang heavy frames on said concrete walls. The floors make my feet hurt. On the flip side, I love watching Margaux and Niahmaya sit on the stoop and talk to each other, sitting side by side and pointing at birds and airplanes. I love the grassy area right outside our building where we can pretend we are airplanes and look for bugs. I love the steel countertops that shine, and the big sliding glass windows that let in light and cool breeze.
Last night, we gave the babysitter a run-down of the bedtime routine and stepped out the door, light on our feet, hands clasped. We spent almost three hours wandering Yokosuka. We ate some of the local cuisine, talked about our future hopes over boba in a coffee shop, and window-shopped our way through the mall. It was great.
How long does jet lag last? The second we put the girls to bed at 7pm is the second my body and brain decide that their bedtime has arrived as well. All day I make a list of things to do when my arms are baby-free: sew a bag, sew a dress, clean this, clean that, work on this embroidery project, do some yoga, playing the dancing video game, read a book…it just keeps going. At 7:01 I’m usually sitting on the couch with my phone in my face, catching up on Instagram and picking out a movie to watch with Ethan. And then we drag ourselves to bed at 9:30. We love to sleep. Especially after sleeping in beds/on couches that were not our own for 2 months!
Other than that…the girls and I found the local fabric shop today! Sakuma, I think. Two minutes past the front gate, we had actually walked past the store several times without realizing! I was not impressed by their fabric choices, but I found some beautiful oilcloth and two purse frames that I’m excited to play with tomorrow.
Other than that, we are drinking smoothies with the new blender Ethan picked out for me, swinging on all the swings we can find, cuddling, and trying new food (like Dragonfruit – very subtle sweetness, such beautiful colors!)
We have been to Red Door Ramen (delicious!), some sushi place where your food is delivered on a conveyor belt (cheap and also delicious), pushed the stroller through a very crowded six-story mall so Ethan could buy a bike and we could practice our “sumimasen”-ing (“Excuse me!” We took the train and then another train to Tokyo and ate lunch at a super snazzy curry house where Niahmaya actually ate some of the food (she must have seen the price!), then wandered the Emperor’s East Garden on the Palace grounds and marveled at a street just for bikes.
Now we finally have internet and I am hoping to record more of our experiences from our life at this stage – we are settled into our new apartment, happy to have our couch and beds back beneath us, thrilled with the parks just out our door, and loving the kimchi.