Monday, April 13, 2015

Kyoto and the Cherry Blossoms

We loved having the chance to see Kyoto during cherry blossom season since it's such an iconic image of Japan. But when all is said and done, I've decided I prefer it in the fall with the fall foliage. Not to mention in the fall you have a much bigger window of time to visit and hotels don't totally jack up their prices. Anyway! Here is Kyoto:
^^beautiful Geisha!^^
Our time was short, but it was fun. We showed Sarah the must sees: Arashiyama, Gion, and Fushimi Inari Shrine
I made it to the top of the mountain this time and I would not say it's worth it ha ha. Just more Torii gates! J also was tired and needed water breaks for the hike.

So there you go! Kyoto. The essence of Japan.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

8 Months and My Motherhood Confession

I know I said my next blog post would be about Kyoto, but I realized I hadn't posted for J's 8 month post! What kind of mother am I?? We had a little photo shoot this morning, and this boy. Such a joy. I just love all his expressions in just a 10 minute period. And I can officially say I've become one of those cliche moms who just keeps saying "how is he 8 months? please time slow down!" I get it now. Him growing up is so bittersweet. 
As you can see, his biggest developments since my last post 2 months ago is that he has two little teeth! And he is starting to crawl. He is being slow about it, since army crawling is so much faster and easier for him at this point. He is entering the mommy clingy stage, but it's only really bad if he is grumpy, which is usually from being tired. He still loves people so much which makes us really happy. We love that he makes everyone feel special when he gives them a smile.

With that being said, there are some things I want to get off my chest about my experience with having a baby and becoming a mother. Something I have been afraid to admit. My confession is this: my experience with a baby has been very easy. I have a very easy baby. 

I haven't divulged much of this info because I have been afraid of inflicting harsh feelings of "rubbing it in" to fellow moms who have not had it as easy as I have. For the past few months, I have read lots of articles and blog posts by women who have had very difficult experiences, and the whole time I think, "wow, it was not like that for me at all." I think it's a good thing that these women are writing their true experiences because the internet can be a very supportive place, but with that it has kind of made me afraid to admit my true experience. But I feel like I need to, because my pre-baby self was so hesitant to have a baby to begin with because of all the horror stories out there. I want to say that things are not always as difficult as the internet makes it seem. 

Here's my confession about giving birth: it's painful and my body was broken. But my body healed very quickly. I was already going out and doing things the very day I got home from the hospital. I was worried that having a baby would alter my appearance. But it doesn't look like I had a baby. My stomach looks just like it did before. I still have some love handles, but it doesn't look likes it's from a baby. I am so grateful for a body that has proven that it is more than capable of doing all that it was made to do.

Here's my confession about breastfeeding: I don't know what I was so worried about. We had no problems at all. Yes, milk coming in hurt at times but not nearly like the pain of giving birth like some women had said. My baby latched and ate correctly from day one and breastfeeding quickly became something I looked forward to doing. Never had the horror stories of cracked and bleeding nipples. This confession is one I'm afraid to admitting the most. Because I know people who have real struggles with it. I'm not putting any judgement on women who choose to not breastfeed, but I am here to say that I personally had/am having a fantastic experience with it and I wish I could have spared my pre-baby self from all that anxiety.

My last confession is about postpartum depression/baby blues: I did not experience it. I had seen one too many Oprah episodes in my high school days and I was terrified of this. I'm no scientist, but I think it's safe to say that you can get a good idea of how your experience will be based on your mother's experience, and I feel blessed that depression is not something that runs in my family. Yes, some days I felt overwhelmed that this was my life now, but overall, snuggling with that perfect baby was pure bliss. I loved the newborn phase and can't wait to experience it again. 

Of course it hasn't all been perfection and I could go into all that, but my point right now is to say that the things I was most worried about before having a baby turned out just fine--if not better-- and you don't need to psych yourself out about having a baby and you shouldn't believe everything you read. I don't take for granted that I have had such a great baby experience. Maybe the next baby will give me a run for my money! But I just want to put it out there in the sea of negative, that there is also the positive stuff. My experience is not necessarily your experience and your experience is not necessarily my experience. 

Feels good to get that off my chest.
And just a few more pictures because I can't help myself! I love him so much.

Returning to Miyajima

After returning a second time to the island of Miyajima, a quick ferry ride from Hiroshima, I have decided it's my favorite place in mainland Japan. The beauty, the charm, the peacefulness...I could go on and on, but it's such a special place. A little out of the way from our original itinerary which was just to explore the Osaka/Kyoto area, but Sarah said she wanted to see it, so I was happy to oblige.

We had a delicious lunch of fresh local oysters and then enjoyed the beautiful weather just walking around. I got to visit Daisho-in Temple again and I loved every minute. We stayed in Hiroshima right next to the Peace Park and visited those sites, enjoying the cherry blossoms along the river, and marveling at the city of Hiroshima. The people there are the nicest. Then back on the shinkansen for our last stop, Kyoto!

Original Miyajima post here.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

One Last Hurrah in Mainland Japan: Osaka and Nara

My dear friend and former mission companion Sarah finally broke free from her European traveling habits and came to Asia! She really wanted to see mainland as well, so my plan was to meet her there. I knew it would kind of be a go go go trip and honestly, I was anxious to do it alone with Baby J. I just hate having to lug everything all over the place and have a baby in tow. I get exhausted. Anyway, turns out Victor got back from Korea just a few days before so he bought a ticket and came and joined us! So, since our hotels were already booked and they were teeny rooms, poor Victor slept on the floor the whole time and J slept in the bathtub. Not the best accommodations but we had fun.

We started our trip in Osaka and visited the town of Nara, which was an old capitol of Japan. Nara was cool, but not as cool as I was expecting. The main attractions there are the great Buddha and all the town's wild deer.

 We spent the evening at Osaka Castle and then over in the Dotonbori area of Osaka and it was so fun! Tons of restaurants with huge food items/animals. It was lots of fun. Gives you such a fun taste of Japan.
 My favorite ginormous item was the gyoza, of course.

I also loved the candy store that sold every type of ramune imaginable. Ramune is Japanese soda you open by dislodging a marble instead of a lid. I love it.
 So, that was Osaka. Up next on the itinerary was to hop on the Shinkansen (bullet train) down to Hiroshima. And on that note, I will just say that I wish I could just travel by shinkansen for every bit of traveling I do. It's so comfy, relaxing, quiet, roomy, etc. Plus you travel 250 miles in just two hours. Awesome.