BFNs (Best Friends For Now)

I signed up for this life.  Well really, I said “I do” to this life.  After 9 years of this, saying goodbyes really never gets any easier.  It’s really just been me having to separate and say goodbye, but finally my kids are old enough to understand that their friends are moving and they won’t see them anymore.  It’s weird.

I’ve come to see after all this time that there is a cycle at each duty station.  The first couple of months is the honeymoon.  You’ve just moved to a new place. You get a new house, you’re adjusting to your surroundings, and everywhere you go, you’re seeing the faces of strangers. Some of those faces will turn out to be your neighbors, your kid’s teachers, your spouse’s co-workers, and even your best friends.

As those first few months turn into the first year and the start of the second, you become adjusted to where you live.  The streets aren’t so foreign, you’ve found your new favorite places to eat, and the faces of the strangers have become familiar faces.  But as you are adjusting, people are readying to close out their chapters.  It’s always sad to see the packers pull up to a neighbor or friend’s house.

Lately, it’s just been never-ending.  My oldest son’s good friend that lived across the street moved 3 weeks ago.  Our neighbor and her young son (my youngest son’s best friend), left last week.  And my older son’s other friend left this past Saturday.  Each of them are moving to different parts of the world.  Chicago, Florida, to the North of us in Yokosuka.

The hardest part is deciding whether people are worth getting to know.  Do I spend  the next 23 months emotionally detached from everyone, knowing full well that our relationships don’t last?  I doubt it.  This duty station has really changed me.  I have made some great friends that are worth spending time with- even if it’s for 6 months, or 20 months.

But eventually, our second year will come to a close, and our final year will begin.  It will be our turn to pack up and leave our friends behind.  I know that I am a lucky girl to live all the way across the world, and I really try to love every day that I get to wake up in Japan.

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Simple Breakfast

We all know that GMO foods are a problem. If you’re not familiar with it, click here: http://www.organicauthority.com/foodie-buzz/eight-reasons-gmos-are-bad-for-you.html.

GMO corn is EVERYWHERE and it’s hard to escape.  We also know that most cereals are corn based.  So if the corn itself is made to kill the pests that try to eat it, what is it doing to our bodies when we in turn eat that corn?  We might not drop dead on the spot, but we have plenty of microorganisms in our bodies that are smaller than the pest that dropped dead from trying to eat the corn while still on the stalk.

Here is a simple, inexpensive, and yummy breakfast that has become a staple for us.  My kids are “cereal converts” that eat this almost every morning before school and love it!

Okay, so the science isn’t exact, but here’s the gist of it:

We buy plain whole oats (not the “quick cook” kind).  I daydream of buying organic oats for my children, but we still have to pick and choose on our budget.  And even though we are lucky that our Commissary even sells organic oats, it’s a tiny bag that we would blow through in less than a week.

So anyway, I have a glass jar that I fill up with as much oatmeal as I can fit.  Then I add a couple of teaspoons of cinnamon, and about a 1/4 as much nutmeg.  This also depends on the size of your jar, so you may have to play around a bit until you’ve found the right balance for your taste.  We like a little extra cinnamon in ours.  Shake it all up, and oh my goodness, you have your own flavored oatmeal!  Minus the weird chemical ingredients, and artificial flavors and colors of the pre-packaged kind.

When it comes time to cook, I dish it out in their bowl, and add either a little spoonful of raw honey, or sometimes a few drops or (real) maple syrup before pouring the boiling water over.

It’s warm for our chilly winter mornings, it is so yummy, and most importantly, it is REAL food that will stick in their tummies and keep them going all morning.

A Simplified Toy Box

Just how much do my children truly need?

After Christmas, I realized that my kids have so much, that they aren’t able to enjoy what they have.  The messes around here were becoming a total nightmare.  They had so much that they couldn’t maintain their own rooms and it was sucking the fun out of the house. For the sake of everyone’s sanity, I HAD to simplify this house.

I have spent the last few weeks going through each of their rooms.  I took out clothing that was too small (or would be too small by the time weather permitted its wearing again), outgrown, and broken toys.

My allergies were a mess, I was exhausted, and I’m pretty sure my neighbors thought I was a drug dealer with all of the traffic at my door selling toys and clothes on our local FB “for sale” page.

After all of the sorting, cleaning, and organizing, they have all been playing with the wooden toy set more than anything.  It seems that the toys that are the simplest, have no flashing lights and songs to play get the most love around here.

Simple Kitchen

I live in a zoo.  I have three children, a husband that is in and out for his military job, and two dogs.  Does this count as maybe 5.5 children?  It sometimes feels like it.  Anyway, the point is that I don’t have time to scrub down melon ballers, and garlic mashers, and every other little cool kitchen tool.

I have simplified our kitchen for several reasons:

1.) Less to clean and store.

2.) Cheaper grocery bills

3.) Healthier bodies (who has time to get sick??)

I have two large cast iron skillets, 1 medium, and 1 small.  I also have a soup pot, a dutch oven, and 2 small pans.  To be honest, I did get a little anxious clearing out the unnecessary stuff, but I can tell you:  When you don’t have everything, you make it work with what you have.

For baking, I also have a cupcake pan, 2 cast iron cake pans, a 13×9 baking dish, and an angel food cake pan (that thing gets lots of love in this house!)

Do I really need a garlic masher?  We had one, but I could never use it. I had to have my husband squeeze it for it me, and what’s the point in that??  I have found that a knife works just fine, thank you very much.

In further simplifying our kitchen, I make our own bread, pita breads, rolls, biscuits, you name it.  It is much cheaper to buy a bag of flour than it is for that certain brand that tastes like Styrofoam and sticks to the roof of your mouth. You know what I’m talking about.

It also means that I am able to control what is going in to our bodies.  I know what goes into our food, and I know that means that healthier bodies for everyone.

Here is what is in your “typical” loaf of fancy store-bought wheat bread:  (Cost at our local store: $3.50)

WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR, UNBLEACHED ENRICHED WHEAT FLOUR [FLOUR, MALTED BARLEY FLOUR, REDUCED IRON, NIACIN, THIAMIN MONONITRATE (VITAMIN B1), RIBOFLAVIN (VITAMIN B2), FOLIC ACID], WATER, SUGAR, CRACKED WHEAT, RYE, WHEAT GLUTEN, YEAST, SUNFLOWER SEEDS, GROUND CORN, NUTS (ALMONDS AND/OR WALNUTS), MOLASSES, SOYBEAN OIL, SALT, CULTURED DEXTROSE AND MALTODEXTRIN, WHOLE WHEAT, WHOLE WHITE WHEAT, BROWN RICE, OATS, SOYBEANS, TRITICALE, MONO- AND DIGLYCERIDES, BARLEY, FLAXSEED, MILLET, CALCIUM SULFATE, DATEM, CITRIC ACID, GRAIN VINEGAR, SOY LECITHIN, HAZELNUTS, WHEY, NONFAT MILK.

Here’s what is in a “typical” loaf that I can make at home:  (Cost to make at home: about $0.55)

WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR, YEAST, SALT, WATER.

Wooo! What a difference?  I guess I was out of triticale and mono diglycerides that day…

New Year, New Simplicity

A new year is here!  It’s a time where we can make a fresh start,and focus on new goals to meet.  The husband and I have set a few goals for the year:

1.) Pay off our consumer debt.  We have some credit card debt that we would like to be rid of.  Unfortunately, it may take longer than the year to get rid of it.  After making a fresh budget for the year, we are set to be debt free as of Feb 2014.  That gives us 13 months.  It sure didn’t take that long to rack it up!!

2.)  Simplify our life.  We are a military family.  I have my suspicions that it should be easier to maintain a simplified lifestyle when we’re packing up and moving every 24-36 months.  I an only imagine what our house would look life if we weren’t forced to pack it and unpack it all so often.  Yikes.  I shudder at the thought.

So what exactly do we mean by “simplify?”  Specifically, we will be passing along what we don’t use or need anymore to lessen the clutter and simplify the way we live.

3.)  Become more self-sufficient.  At our last duty station, I had an amazing garden.  I had a compost heap, grew lots of veggies, herbs, and a few fruits.  I knew it was time to get it going again when my kids asked why weren’t growing our own food anymore.

4.) Become less dependent on “commercial” products:  toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, laundry and dish soap, etc.

The husband is gone fairly often because of his job, so the majority of the actual “simplifying” rests with me.  And since the cleaning and running of the house rests with me,I’m excited to take on any challenge that will help to simplify my circus of a life.

Love This Life

The first time the husband brought up marrying me, we talked about what marrying a sailor meant. It would mean picking up and moving every few years, leaving friends behind, making new friends, seeing new places, never really having a “home” outside of where you are currently stationed.  I am okay with it.  Growing up in San Diego, the military was always all around me.  My Grandfather is a retired Captain, my other Grandfather served as an SK for a few years.  My sister served, my cousin (attempted) to serve but didn’t make it past boot camp (another story for another day).  I wasn’t marrying the Navy, I just wanted to marry the husband.  This lifestyle is what comes with being married to my best friend.

This life has its moments that make me a little crazy, but for the most part, I absolutely love it.  I lived in the SAME apartment that I was BORN in for 17 years.  I had traveled once to Ohio in the 7th grade.

And now, I have lived in so many cities, and even better, my children have been all over the world!

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Note To Self

dr-seussI have to remember that it is OKAY to swim against the flow. It’s okay that I have bold opinions and I enjoy simplifying my life. I am not a social butterfly. I sometimes feel like there is something wrong with not going out and socializing with friends every day of the week- especially when the husband it out. But I am a quiet, simple person. I would rather enjoy my days with my family. And I get more enjoyment in free/inexpensive activities because I would rather save towards our goals.

I stand up for what I know is right for people every where, even if it doesn’t affect me. I don’t support dirty companies, I grow my own food, I use cloth diapers, I encourage the use of food and natural methods over medicines and vaccines.

I love the military life that we have. I am thankful every day that I am lucky enough to get to raise my children overseas and give them new experiences. But it can be so exhausting to have to make new friends every time. Just when I have found people that are either like-minded or accept me for the person I am, it’s either time for us or them to PCS. Just because I love the military life don’t mean it’s always easy.