that pcs hell…

– watching your life being packed away into wooden crates 

– sending your fur babies to stay with friends for a couple weeks, missing them so much it hurts, worrying that they think you gave them away, trying to tell your toddler where they are, and wondering if she gets it

– living out of a suitcase and knowing that’ll be life for a month or more

– watching the immense stress your serviceman of a husband is under trying to get everything done 

– paying $3,000 just to get the pets to Los Angeles, never mind Germany

– feeling the sadness of saying goodbye to the island where your life started to come together… Engaged… Kitten… Married… Puppy… Pregnant… Baby, now Toddler. So many feelings

– distancing from friends so it’s not a sad, emotional goodbye, cause let’s be fucking real; it is NOT a “see you later.” <insert eye roll, repeat>

– trying to be gentle with your teething toddler who is so damn resilient, but also just so damn clingy

– hanging in there. Keeping on. Being strong. Smiling. ‘Cause that’s what we do. Countless women have done this with their families and pets. I can do it. I will do it. 

Much love to my ladies who are boarding my Fenway and Beedoo. Thanks to everyone who’s made time to see us and offer best wishes for our next chapter. Thanks to my husband… for giving us a good life and keeping Addy with her fur-siblings. ❤️

June ’16 = 🇯🇵➡️🇺🇸➡️🇩🇪 

just breathe

 I had a glorious hour to myself today. HusBon took Addy in the stroller and walked with her and Fenway a roundabout 3 mile route to meet me at the beach.

Today was one of those magical, sunny, clear, 80 degree spring days. I drove to the little beach a mile from my house, stopping at Family Mart beforehand for an iced coffee, a cherry Chu-hi, and a water. I sat on my quilt…by myself. Alone but NOT lonely. I brought a book but didn’t bother reading it. I took pictures. I climbed up a rock. I waded way out (super low tide). I cartwheeled. I snarfled the sunshine and sea air in by the lungful. I drank my drink and sat cross-legged and motionless and breathed.   

An hour or so after they left me at home, my husband and the baby and the dog joined me at the beach. I felt calm, centered, and so damn happy to see them. 

Sometimes all I need is an hour – the opportunity to sit alone, in silence, and just breathe.

  

an open letter to myself

Hey, Joce. It’s me, you. I have seen how you are struggling lately, barely treading water, and I figured it was time to step in and have a little chat. Looks like you are desperately needing some positive self-talk. So, just wanted to say…Hey.

Hey, Joce. The whole “momming” gig seems to be especially challenging for you lately. Being the primary caretaker for a toddler is not easy. You are justified in feeling overwhelmed and as if every fucking day is just another fucking Groundhog Day and will be so on and so forth until the end of time. Just remember that behind the teething and fussing and tantrums that she throws at you, that YOU are your daughter’s whole world. She is such a pleasant, sweet, sociable little being BECAUSE of you and all your investment parenting. You’ve got a lot of experience from caring for your siblings, and you are totally killing it as a mother to your own child, even if you feel like no one sees it or gives a shit.

Hey, Joce. You’re not getting enough sleep, but despite your irrational moments here and there, you are still a highly functional human, and that, in and of itself, is badass. There’s a reason why sleep deprivation is used as a torture technique. You can rest assured (pun intended) that you will be able to hold your own if you are ever subjected to this for any reason. Just tell them upfront to water board you.

Hey, Joce. I know you feel like your body is never going to be the same. News Flash: It won’t. But one day, this baby will wean, and you won’t be obligated to nurse. You will be able to go back to a consistent lifting schedule. You’ll build your strength and endurance back. And guess what? You’ll never have to push a baby out EVER AGAIN. You’ll never have to start from ground zero again. It’s all ups at this point. You have a whole lifetime left of being able to focus on getting stronger. This is a short season in your life. This too shall pass.

Hey, Joce. It’s all right to be pissed about situations beyond your control. You cannot pick your family, but you don’t have to put up with their fucking bullshit. The point is not to get bogged down in bitterness or anger, because… Fuck that. You have too much to do and too much love to give to the family you have created. Be grateful you know this, and do not buy into a false sense of obligation. There’s a damn good reason you left that drama-shit behind 17 years ago. 

Hey, Joce. Military life is difficult at times. Your husband can tell you this better than anyone. It’s not wrong to feel isolated as a mom and and a wife and a fucking person in general. He is your best friend and your biggest fan. Don’t try to do everything by yourself; you two are a team, and he is your partner in raising that baby. Stop being afraid to ask for help when you need it. 

Hey, Joce. It’s okay. Seriously, dude. Remember, you got this. You’re a boss. Anytime you need a reminder of that, look at where you are and all you accomplished, in spite of where and whence you came. 

Good talk. 😘 Get some goddamn intermittent sleep and kick ass tomorrow. 

one of those days…

…when you wake up more exhausted than you were when you went to bed, if that is even possible, because your child was up all night.

…when you realize you’re out of milk for your coffee, or worse yet, out of coffee.

…when you cannot seem to finish one goddamn task because your toddler needs you just so much.

…when the dog is driving you crazy because he keeps barking, or chewing on the baby’s toys, or chasing the cat, or eating baby wipes.

…when you rewash the load of laundry in the washer for the fifth time.

…when you walk away from the couch for thirty seconds where you were attempting to fold laundry and turn around to see all of it strewn on the floor, with the dog and the baby sitting on it.

…when you feel like a crackhead because your eyeballs are practically vibrating from all the coffee, and you forgot to eat anything.

…when you think to yourself, “will this fucking kid just take a fucking nap for Christ sake!?!”

…when you cut the playground session short because it’s too much effort to keep other people’s kids from knocking your kid over.

…when you just try to make it to the point in the day where it’s acceptable to pour a glass of wine or you don’t even bother trying.

…when you realize you’d rather make a peanut butter sandwich with a spoon rather than wash a butter knife.

…when it’s a huge relief when your husband gets home, but you ruin it by picking a fight over nothing because you’re so irritable.

…when your toddler accidentally head butts you during a tantrum and splits your lip open.

…when you just want to sit in a room, in the dark, alone.

…when you feel like nothing was accomplished whatsoever.

…when all you want to do is turn your brain off.

And then, you see your daughter smiling in her sleep and realize that you are the one who built her, nourished her, cares for her, loves her so much that it takes your breath away. Then you sneak away to apologize to your husband and give him a hug. You give the dog a treat before you put him in his crate for the night. You finish your wine and go to bed because tomorrow you’ll start again.

 

 

back to blogging

I’ve been neglectful of this blog lately. It can be tricky to find time to respond to text messages, much less sit down at the computer and string together sentences into coherent paragraphs. But, in the spirit of self-care and my sanity, I’ve decided to put aside time for myself at least once a week to check in with a blog post. Maybe it won’t be fancy, with colorful pictures throughout, or full of informative tidbits. More times than not, I guarantee it’ll be stream-of-(un)consciousness. Sometimes just getting thoughts out there is helpful.

I decided to rename the blog to reflect my state of mind. There’s a meme about moms and coffee and wine and chocolate. It’s completely accurate for me. Also, I feel like when I started “Okinawa Bubbles,” I aspired to blog about too much stuff… locations, activities, recipes, blah blah blah. So, welcome to the inaugural post of

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If I’ve learned anything since becoming a mother, it’s that I need to lower my expectations of myself. I’m not going to be a perfect wife, mother, housekeeper, friend, #fitmom, blogger, or anything else. But I can certainly just keep at it and appreciate myself for doing the best I’m capable of that moment.

i’m lost without you, e-byrne

For my G, the unflappable  E-Byrne;

Just wanted to say THANK YOU:

For being such a cool kid when I met you at a BBQ, you were wicked pregnant, with a crazy tiny MOB running around and a super energetic JZ bopping about. You ate a cheeseburger with no bun, and I swear you winked when you said you didn’t eat gluten.

For meeting me at Torii pool when Harry was only 2 months old and MOB was starting to be a serious terrorist. For listening to my silly early pregnancy concerns. For showing me it was possible to wrangle children and strollers and bags and towels and still portray yourself as being in control. For not giving a fuck and just sitting on the step of the van and nursing Harry like a boss in the parking lot. #normalizebreastfeeding

For answering my Facebook messages and questions about pregnancy, even when it involved me revealing too much information. Questions about boobs, and vaginas, and things of that nature.

For letting me hold and cuddle the squishy Harry and take pictures of him.

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For listening to me bitch and moan about how I didn’t feel well and wasn’t having a glowing pregnancy. For helping me not to give a fuck and trust that the mommy instinct would kick in and I’d love my baby. Oh, man, did it.

For always taking me seriously, even when I asked you if you thought 6 pairs of nursing pads were enough to pack in my hospital overnight bag.

For buying AK the absolutely coolest item on the baby registry: Hello Kitty powder puff.

For giving me ALL your baby gear – bassinet, car seat mirror, swing, walker, bumbo, so many clothes, tons of toys.

For the homemade candy, cookies, peppermint lip gloss, and candied nuts at Christmas.

For hating baby showers, but attending mine because you liked me that much. And bringing a Harry along.

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For visiting me in the hospital after I had AK. For bringing me chocolate covered strawberries. For the homemade lotion bars. For letting Harry be the first baby that AK ever met. For knowing that 15 min is the perfect length of time to visit a mama and day-old baby.

For coffee at your house, anytime I wanted to come by. For letting my kid be friends with your kids.

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For not judging me when I said I was only having one baby.

For being a good baker of all things delicious and wheat-free.

For the coffee.

For liking my Instagram posts. For understanding the the imagination that goes into Little Girls of Anarchy. For telling me I was a bad ass for doing a cartwheel at 9 months pregnant.

For all the time and messages (on a goddamn broken screen iphone) over the time we’ve been friends: consoling, complaining, validating, being clever, communicating through Facebook stickers.

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For cutting my hair and for fixing AK’s when I cut hers.

For our matching wave tattoos. For understanding the therapeutic value of clear water and the sound of the surf.

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Did I mention coffee?

For being quite possibly the most bad ass mofo of a mama I’ve ever met.

For not crying when we said goodbye. And not judging me for blubbering.

I miss you, friend, so much. Oki isn’t the same without you, but I’ll see you soon. xoxo

All my love,

J-Owens

 

 

 

 

baby love

As soon as I began telling people I was pregnant last summer, everyone I knew who had kids started telling us, “It’s the most incredible thing in the world. You will never know how much you can love anything until you see that baby.” Every time they would say it, my HusBon and I would agree with them, nod, and smile. I was screeching on the inside. I was the most miserable pregnant person you’d ever met.

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“Oh, I’m suuuuuuure. Can’t waaaaaaait. It’s gonna be amaaaaaaazing,” I’d gush, secretly rolling my eyes at what I thought was over-dramatized emotion on their part. After all, I loved my husband, I loved my friends, I loved my family. Yes, yes, I get it. I will love my baby, my daughter, my child. Love love love. Love is all you need. Jeez.

I was completely unprepared for the entrance of this tiny gurrrrlll into my life.  Now, let me back up a second. Lightning didn’t strike at the hospital, necessarily.  I carried carry a lot of guilt and shame regarding my birth experience. I immediately clicked into auto-pilot in the hospital, dutifully changing diapers, nursing around the clock, receiving our well-wishers, taking the “obligatory”  24 hours postpartum-body selfie (SO FUCKING RIDICULOUS).

Even the first few weeks at home were a haze of breastfeeding sessions every hour or two hours, so painful, that my husband had to pinch a pressure point on my hand to distract me from the nursing pain. I loved my daughter, of course, but I was feeling a bit…mechanical. My only goal was making sure she was fed, clean, comforted, happy, thriving.

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Once I turned the corner at 8 weeks postpartum, I was feeling better. My thrush had gone away, so nursing was no longer like having my fingernails slowly pulled out. She was looking at me. She smiled at me. She rolled over. We were co-sleeping. She whimpered in her sleep, reaching for me, comforted once she felt I was there. All of a sudden it hit me. THIS WAS MY BABY. MY…BABY. I lost it. I held her in the darkness, while she was sleeping, tears coursing down my face, whispering,

It was YOU, the whole time, in there. It was YOU. I wish I’d known it was you.

See, now, that is how I fell in love with my baby. And you know what? It’s the most incredible thing in the world. I never knew I could love anything as much as I love her. I worry about everything now. I worry about the world in which she will grow up. I worry about her first skinned knee.  I worry about someone saying something mean to her. I worry about some boy hurting her precious little heart. I worry about how she will be so sad when Beedoo and Fenway pass away when she’s in high school.

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So with this great love, comes great responsibility. How is it possible that I am ready for this task? I am an “older” first-time mommy, 34 years old, plenty of life experience, completely aware of how I do NOT want to be. I just want to be the best mother I can possibly be. I want my daughter to be nurtured and protected, yet aware and smart. How on earth am I supposed to be able to do this?!

Every time the anxiety chokes me, my baby is my anti-dote. Her sweet face, whether grinning at me or placidly asleep, heals me. I thought I was supposed to take care of her, help her, make her feel safe? She does exactly that for me. There truly is nothing like this in the world, this… this Baby Love.

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the lost (now found) phone

I used to be a professional at losing important things. Keys, phones, IDs, wallets, credit cards, purses, jackets. Basically, anything that you might have with you when you go out drinking. With the help of Stoli O, I was the embodiment of Lady Gaga’s lyric: “where are my keys/I lost my phone.” Even when I’d realize something was missing, usually not until the next morning, I always had relatively good luck in recovering said object. That’s the plus of neighborhood bars where everyone knows you. Since those party days are over, I take secret pride in the fact that I have not lost any of those things in over two years. Until yesterday.

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We were enjoying the end of our Fourth of July weekend as a family. We took the baby to the beach for a little while and then went to get sandwiches and pick up the baby’s hat which, ironically, I had left at the restaurant we had dinner at the evening prior. Back at home, I asked my husband to take a picture of me holding the baby and the cat, wearing a Grumpy Cat tshirt that his nieces had sent him for Christmas. I posted the picture to Instagram and settled on the couch with the baby to relax for the afternoon.

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HusBon decides he’d like to go for a run down to the lighthouse and back. He insisted that I take the baby in the stroller for a walk and meet him at our local favorite restaurant a mile from the house, and we could walk back home together. I was not interested. In. The. Slightest. But, being the sweet wife that I am, I went upstairs to change into something suitable for walking in the Okinawa heat at high noon. I brought the baby outside and put her in her stroller. I put the diaper bag in the stroller. I got my headphones from the car. My husband mocked my headphones, “why are you going to wear those earmuffs? What are those, beats by Dre?” I rolled my eyes and went back in my gym bag in the car to get earbuds. I put the buds in my ears and reach into the stroller pocket for my phone.

Wait a minute. Not there. Where IS my phone?

Run back inside and check the couch. Nope. Run back outside and check the diaper bag, my wallet, under the baby, in the stroller cushions. Back inside to look on the kitchen table, in the laundry room, in the baby’s room, in my bedroom. No, no, nope, and no. What the eff. At this point, I just leave for the restaurant, figuring I didn’t look closely enough because I was rushing. I’ll find it when I get home.

I walk silently down to the Whale in the 90 degree heat, feeling a little nervous. What if I need my phone? What if HusBon gets hurt on his run and needs to call me? I quiet the crazy for a while and just enjoy the walk, mind wandering. I make it to the Whale without incident, and the baby is passed out in her stroller. I sip a beer and wait for Mark to show up, which he does shortly, sweating profusely and in need of a “recovery beverage” or two. We sit outside on the little patio, under an umbrella, and relax for a while, having fun with the baby once she wakes up.

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Once the baby enters close-to-meltdown mode, I leave and head home. Once I’m home and showered again, I look for this damn phone. WHERE IS IT?! About an hour later, I load the baby into the car and fetch my husband. We drive to the grocery store for a few things. We come home and look for the phone. The baby eventually goes to bed. We look for the phone. We light some sparklers after dark. I stop looking for the phone. I’m sure I’ll find it in the morning.

I do NOT find it in the morning. I drive to Family Mart for iced coffee to fuel my tearing apart of the house. No luck then, or in  the afternoon. Mark turns the couch upside down and looks inside the frame. We sweep up the dog hair that was collected under the couch. No phone. He asks if it was possible I put it on the top of the car. I scoff, saying I don’t put things on the car roof because I am afraid I’d forget them and drive off. I lament my mom brain situation to a couple girlfriends on Facebook Messenger. Everyone assures me I will find it, since it has to be somewhere in the house. It doesn’t show up on the FindIphone App. It’s a lazy day for me and the baby because I feel unsettled not knowing where the phone is. It has over 4,000 pictures and 230 videos saved on it. Mostly of the baby. Not everything is backed up.

We make a trip to the grocery store in between the baby’s naps. I worry and rifle through things I’ve already completely turned upside down in my search. I let the dog out to go the bathroom and stand at the window, holding the baby on my hip so she can watch him sniff around the yard. I look at my car. Something catches my eye.

YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME.

I run outside and pull my stupid iPhone off the roof of my car. It has rained a total of 5 times since yesterday when I must have put it on top of the car when I switched my headphones for earbuds. I have driven the car to pick up my husband, twice to the grocery store, and once to Family Mart. I text my friend to tell her I found it, and she responds, “I dropped my phone weird a week ago and needed to get a new one. Yours goes on a wet and wild road trip and nothing happens.” I am lucky for sure.

In all seriousness, I do not remember putting the phone on the car. I don’t remember picking it up to bring it outside. I am on auto-pilot for so much of my day, it’s ridiculous. Usually the “mom brain” doesn’t matter. No one gets hurt if I make coffee and have to reheat it over and over because I keep forgetting it in the microwave. It’s not a big deal if a load of laundry happens to stay in the washer all day and needs an extra rinse cycle before it hits the dryer. Who cares if I have to keep restarting a movie because I get distracted by Instagram and keep missing what happens in the first five minutes? But this could have been awful. I could have lost some of my most precious pictures and videos of my little girl. I am so happy I found it; I’m so happy it still works; I’m just happy, happy, happy. Hopefully, I will be more mindful in the future, but I doubt it. You can’t fix mom brain, unfortunately.