I’m 1 Year Old! Happy Birthday Go Mama O!

Cheers! My Blog is officially 1 year old today! AND it’s my 100th post! I celebrated last night on a date night with Daddy O.  Here I am toasting myself with a cucumber, cilantro vodka concoction.

blog bday

We had the most amazing tapas! It was the perfect meal for an end of summer evening to dine al fresco and sample bits of this & that (without committing to one HUGE entree). This savory waffle with smoked gouda and chives topped with chicken asparagus and mushrooms was so pretty I HAD to take a picture before devouring it. Tell me I’m not the only one who takes pictures of my food…c’mon! delicious tapas

Looking Back

Reflecting on Go Mama O’s first year, I would say that I have learned a lot this past year.  One of my earliest posts, Top 5 Things I Learned from my Kids, still holds true even one year later, and I’m STILL learning to be a more patient parent.

In this past year, I met some helpful fellow moms along the way – including a sweet elderly woman at a grocery store. Gained a contract job that I did while my son napped and my daughter watched all episodes of  Wonder Pets on Netflix. I job hunted & got rejected several times before finding the right fit.  In the meantime, I learned to slow down more and enjoy many million dollar moments of parenting.

I am most proud of times when I gave up control a bit and empowered others to make a “good choice.” When potty training my daughter, I ultimately told her that SHE WAS IN CHARGE of her pee-s and poops.  I mistakenly gave her too much free reign on one toilet session, and paid for it dearly, so much so that I had to call in for back-up.

This aforementioned incident aside, I started to realize that this parenting thing DOES get easier as your kids grow older and slowly more independent.

Come April, I had landed a part-time marketing job that continues to be a good balance of work & parenting.  A few job related posts:

We have mostly overcome issues with growling, survived a cross-country road-trip, and I’m adjusting to the dinnertime rush on my workdays. I’m really proud of how far I’ve come (and my family too) in this past year.  For all the stress and worry that I felt one year ago, I wish I would have just RELAXED more because everything did work out for the best.

Thank you so much to the many fellow blog-friends, and my readers, who may relate to or simply enjoy my mom / work / cheese obsession / travel posts.  I look forward to celebrating more Blog Birthdays with you in the future!

Any feedback, suggestions, or thoughts on topics that I write about?  I’d love to hear from you!  Do you frequently look back at old posts and think about how life has changed since then?

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Story of Mum: mums making an exhibition of ourselves

I came across this amazing post from Mum Turned Mom this morning, and it’s words truly resonated with me. I could relate to being defined by what I did – my job – and the difficult decision to make a career downshift when I had my two, beautiful children.  It was the best decision I have EVER made, and I am a much happier mom (now working part-time) with more balance and gratitude in my life.

Read on as this fellow Mum / Mom serves as curator for this virtual exhibition, and enjoy the happy, go-mama message!

Story of Mum: mums making an exhibition of ourselves.

Old School Blogging

My blog friend Melissa over at Motherhood is an Art recently tagged me in a post that consists of lists of 5 things about myself. This is an easy, quick-hitting list to share a little bit more about each other. Below you will find my answers to these questions. Enjoy!

Five Things I Have a Passion for:

  1. My family
  2. Learning, growing, and trying to simply be a better mom, wife, friend, and all around person
  3. Reading & writing
  4. Cheese – specifically a 5 – 6 year old aged Cheddar
  5. Chocolate anything!

Five Things I Would Like To Do Before I Kick the Bucket:

  1. Hug a koala bear
  2. Eat sushi at Tsujiki Fish Market in Tokyo
  3. Learn a few basic ballroom dance moves with my hubs (so we can look cute as old people dancing together at weddings)
  4. Become a better baker (I’m currently more of a cook)
  5. Go on a Habitat for Humanity international service trip (or another vacation combining a service project)

Five Things I Say A Lot:

  1. No hitting. No wrestling. No running off.  (These rules are also repeated back to me, but are not always followed.)
  2. Be right back.
  3. Listening Ears on
  4. Use your inside voice please!
  5. I love you!

Five Things I Read Recently:

  1. Currently reading: Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis
  2. Rediscover Catholicism by Matthew Sweet
  3. Mad Women: The other side of life on Madison Avenue in the ’60′s and beyond by Jane Maas
  4. Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
  5. TOO many amazing blogs to count!

Five Favorite Movies:

  1. Dirty Dancing – such a classic!  “Nobody puts Baby in the corner!”
  2. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly – it’s a total tear-jerker, but so amazing. Very very brief synopsis: a man dictates his memoir by blinking to communicate!
  3. ARGO
  4. The Shawshank Redemption
  5. Run Lola Run (auf Deutsch: Lola Rennt)

Five Places I Would Love to Travel:

  1. Australia (see koala comment above)
  2. Alaska
  3. Peru
  4. Japan with Daddy O. – Tokyo, Kyoto, Takayama, Nikko
  5. Hawaii (do I really just have 5 lines…there are so many more places on my list – India, China, Thailand, Vietnam, Africa)

Five Bloggers I’m Tagging For This Thing:

  1. Ice scream mama
  2. Do Gooder Mama
  3. I will have my Cake
  4. Little Miss Wordy
  5. Breadwinning Mama

All you ladies need to do is get to answering and writing, so we can all learn a little more about you! (I know this is kind of chain letter-like, so if you don’t answer, I won’t hold it against you!) Have a great night!

Cathy

Memories of Japan: Summer Reading Challenge

In the spirit of the Do Good, Read More Summer Reading Challenge (the brainchild of the Do Gooder Mama), I decided to search for some blogs that reminded me of my own 3-month stint in Japan over TEN years ago!

Do Good Read More Summer Reading ChallengeWhen I started searching for blogs, I would save them in a draft, and then I’d keep finding more! This is quite a popular topic!

My Time as an Intern in Tokyo

I was a college student in my 20’s interested in going to Japan, since I had studied it all four years in high school.  When I arrived at college, I THOUGHT I could major in business, German and fit in some Japanese, but when they suggested placing me in a 6-credit Japanese class, I balked, thinking about how long my college career would take if I tried to be such an overachiever.

When I learned about an internship program with a railway company, I jumped at the offer to submit a proposal, and I WAS CHOSEN!  Through my three month stay, I would create a marketing plan and assess the ease of riding the train for English speaking passengers.  One other intern also participated in the program (mostly motivated by his ability to live in Japan and see his Japanese girlfriend).  Still, it was an incredible experience – full of A LOT of self-discovery and culture shock!

Clean & Efficient

One thing that I really noticed was how clean & efficient Tokyo was. The train system was among the finest in the world, providing high-speed travel on well-maintained, state of the art, and clean trains. All staff really takes pride in their work and their appearance.

I had the opportunity to “work” at Tokyo station for one week during my internship – complete with a uniform that was a cross between McDonald’s and a flight attendant that included a pencil skirt, hat, AND tie.  One female station employee noticed that I was trying to re-use the tie from the previous day (since I didn’t know how to tie it myself), so she quickly came to my rescue, re-tying it to look immaculate. I enjoyed teaching the employees English, and actually had to help an English speaking passenger find his way!

I was thanking passengers as they exited the train at Tokyo Station

I was thanking passengers as they exited the train at Tokyo Station – Arigato gozaimashta!

Similar sentiments on cleanliness were described in this post: 20 Things I Love About Japan from rhythmofthoughts

I LOVE Engrish!

As mentioned in the blog post above, you frequently see English words that don’t make a lot of sense printed on shirts, signs, billboards – EVERYWHERE!  This phenomenon is known as ENGRISH!  Check out these hilarious examples from Everything Anna:

For the love of Engrish

Georgiana in Real Life – also has some Engrish examples and beautiful photography.  My time there was SO LONG AGO, that digital photography really wasn’t around.

Life in Tokyo

As described in Daily (w)rite – Writing about Tokyo, it IS a little intimidating to navigate Tokyo.  On my first day coming home from work, I ended up getting lost. Fortunately I knew enough Japanese to ask for directions back to my tiny apartment.  Many people will say they don’t speak English, and while this MAY sometimes be true, I found that many more work colleagues spoke English – they were just too shy and modest to say it outright.  During my time there, I was approached a few times by random business men (or salaryman), who asked to practice their English with me.  I politely declined!

The subway and train systems CAN be difficult to navigate.  When my dear mom visited me, she had to take the train by herself from the airport to Tokyo Station.  She didn’t really know how to use the system (being from small town Wisconsin), so for two agonizing hours we waited for each other on opposite sides of the train’s exit turnstile. In comparison, my older sister and her boyfriend visited, and were champs navigating the system without ANY knowledge of Japanese.  I remember being very visual – remembering the look of a street or building, and matching up the kanji (Chinese characters) and hiragana (Japanese alphabet) when I couldn’t read something outright.

in uniform at Tokyo station

Me, Japanese Station Staff Manager, Other intern at Tokyo Station

My commute to my internship was a 15 minute subway ride, but my fellow intern had a 45 minute commute on the train.  At his station, they have workers who PUSH people onto trains to help make room for more passengers. It is ironic for the Japanese culture: for people who keep a lot of personal space and bow vs. shaking hands, they tolerate being crammed onto trains. It is disgusting to be so close to someone else that his sweat drips on you.  YUCK!

Public Bathing

I came across this beautifully written post: Venus in Japan by Nina Nakamura.

I can relate to feelings of insecurity in public baths.  I went to some with a family that I befriended through my best friend’s cousin’s friend (got that connection?), and I felt a little awkward squatting by a faucet and washing myself before submerging into the heavenly waters of different types of pools.  On another occasion, I went with my colleague’s girlfriend in Kyoto, who picked up on my discomfort, and left me alone.

More to Come!

I have enjoyed reflecting on my summer in Japan, and finding other bloggers who have ventured there as well.  I’ll be sharing more on this topic – and hopefully sharing some priceless pictures (maybe scanning?) or my stay.  Sayonara for now!

Have you ever been to Japan?  What do you remember most from your time there?

Virtual Hug Received! Thanks!

I’ve just received a virtual hug (and the promise of a brownie) from Kaela at The Girl Who Blogs, who was kind enough to nominate me for the Liebster Blog Award.  If you’re not following her already, you should definitely pop over to Kaela’s blog. In her words: “This blog is alternately fun and serious, personal and objective. I like to laugh so I tend to focus on the funny things in life.”

I also have to thank Tricia at Do Gooder Mama, who nominated me MONTHS ago, and I didn’t finish the post until now with my abbreviated guidelines (so sorry)!  Be sure to read about and join the Do Good Read More Summer Reading Challenge.

The rules:
1. Thank the Liebster Blog presenter who nominated you, with link back to their blog.
2. Answer the 11 questions you were asked and create 11 of your own questions to ask your nominees.
3. Nominate 11 blogs of your choice: new, old, just found, following, or you think deserve some notice; and let them know they’ve been nominated!
4. Show off the Award photo on your blog!
5. No tag backs–meaning you can’t just re-nominate the person who nominated you.

Due to the awesomeness of Kaela’s blog, she took the liberty to reduce the number of required questions to 5.  I welcome and appreciate this.  As a girl who loves to quickly scan and read, I’m going to nominate 5 blogs and ask 5 questions too.

And the nominees are:

I Will Have My Cake

All Marketing Things (watch the cat / dog videos in her latest post)

A Teachable Mom

The Thing About Joan

Healthy Mommy For Life

My 5 Questions for my dear nominees to Answer:

1. If you could pick a theme song for yourself, what would it be?
2. What is your favorite quote?
3. What are your three favorite summer activities?
4. What is your favorite meal (and you are NOT preparing it)?
5. Why do you blog?

My answers to The Girl Who Blogs 5 questions:
1. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? I would actually choose my home state, where I am right now: Wisconsin, BUT I would love to travel to different cities and live there for a few weeks / month at a time.  Maybe someday!
2. What is your favorite book of all time? Oh my, there are so many favorite books that I don’t know I could just pick one: Tuesdays with Morrie, Memoirs of a Geisha, The House of Spirits, historical fiction by Philippa Gregory, and Catcher in the Rye.
3. It’s your last meal. What would you eat? Eel sushi with BBQ eel sauce, another amazing sushi roll with avocado and raw fish, breakfast taco I had in Austin, TX, and fresh, squeaky Wisconsin cheese curds with chocolate cake and mochi ice cream for dessert.
4. Cats or dogs? Why?  Cats because they are more low maintenance than dogs.
5. What’s your favorite things about yourself? My long arms – great for hugs, carrying / holding my kids, snuggling, reaching for toys in the backseat, and playing basketball & volleyball.

Cheers everyone, and THANKS for reading! Virtual hugs all around.