Wednesday, August 29, 2012

How to Keep a Busy Toddler Happy

I have been learning some tricks to keep the Bron-Monster entertained and happy these last few weeks.  With Luke gone now, it's been especially difficult to have no relief in the evenings.  Bronson is just a boy who needs people interaction and constant stimulation.  To me, it's exhausting.  I know that this age is important to be learning and growing and interacting and doing.  I have found these tips and tricks to help me on the days when I need to accomplish things around the house.

1.  We rearranged our furniture so that Bronson has his own little play corner in our small Japanese living room.  As long as the toys are neatly displayed on his shelves, he is happy to play by himself for a little while during the day.

2.  Rotating toys has amazing results and is so easy.  I keep a big tub of toys nearby, and put away toys he loses interest in, and I bring out new ones he hasn't played with in a while.  It's so neat to see him mastering toys that he once had no idea what to do with.

3.  I also cleared the bottom shelf of one of our bookcases, and loaded it with 15-20 of his books.  This is on a different side of the room, so that he is not distracted by his toys.  He now sits quietly and flips through his books.  Sometimes I hear him jabbering away just like he's reading them.  He stacks the books, looks at the pictures, and in the evenings he will find a book off of his shelf and bring it to me to read to him.  I also have been rotating his books, so that he doesn't get bored with them.

4.  Getting him out of the house in the mornings has made a huge difference to what he's like the rest of the day.  I try to take him on a walk in the stroller in the morning before it gets super hot.  Even if it's just a walk around the block to take the trash out, he loves it.  A change of scenery seems to really help.  Most afternoons I try to take him out to run errands or even just to run to the post office to pick up our mail.

5.  When I'm working in the kitchen,  I've had a problem with him hanging on my legs.  It makes it really difficult to cook or wash dishes with a toddler hanging on me.  So I found some fun magnets to put on the lower half of the fridge that have kept him busy and in the same room as me.  He may be getting bored with these as well, because I haven't seen him playing with them for a few days now.  But I have brought in a little bouncy ball that he loves to bounce on the hardwood floor and hear the noise it makes.  Hopefully this will not become a hazard.  :)

6.  Something else that I just started doing is introducing a new food/combination everyday.  He's getting to the age where he doesn't want to try anything he hasn't had before, and I have not been really good about giving him a lot of cooked adult food.  I usually give him fruits and vegetables by themselves and maybe a little off of my plate whatever I'm eating.  I found some toddler food ideas on Pinterest that I'm going to try.

7. Music is a must with this little man.  I usually play music for him in the morning while I'm getting ready for the day.  He LOVES music.

8.  Bath time is also a great time in the evening when I know he's entertained with little effort on my part.  To me, evenings are the hardest.  When both he and I are tired, it's not a good mix.  But the bath is relaxing and fun.  It winds him down for bedtime. 

9.  I have found that if I give him 15-20 minutes of my undivided attention a couple times a day, it satisfies his need for one-on-one interaction.  I know in the future, these times of mom and Bronson play are going to be the precious times that I remember.  It's fun to sit and read with him or pick a toy and work on it together or just wrestle/tickle.  It's amazing to see him learning and developing into a little boy.

I know I didn't quite get to 10, but that's all that I do for now.  I would love to get him outside.  There are so many great outside activities, but our house/yard just isn't great for that right now.  It's too hot, and there are too many mosquitoes swarming our yard.  Maybe in the fall, we'll be able to migrate outside during the day.  The playgrounds in the area are awesome, so I'm looking forward to exploring parks and playground in the near future.

Those are all of my ideas.  So what do you do with a busy toddler?


Sunday, August 26, 2012


It is quite depressing to finally post homecoming pictures after Luke has already deployed again.  But some of these pictures turned out great, and I wanted to share.

Getting ready to go watch Dad fly in

Bronson LOVED looking at all the helicopters.

 Look at this COOL backpack Dad got me in Hong Kong!

I'm so happy Dad's home!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Bon Festival

"Obon (お盆?) or just Bon (?) is a Japanese Buddhist custom to honor the spirits of one's ancestors. This Buddhist-Confucian custom has evolved into a family reunion holiday during which people return to ancestral family places and visit and clean their ancestors' graves, and when the spirits of ancestors are supposed to revisit the household altars. It has been celebrated in Japan for more than 500 years and traditionally includes a dance, known as Bon-Odori.

 Bon Odori (盆踊り?), meaning simply Bon dance is a style of dancing performed during Obon. Originally a Nenbutsu folk dance to welcome the spirits of the dead, the style of celebration varies in many aspects from region to region. Each region has a local dance, as well as different music. The music can be songs specifically pertinent to the spiritual message of Obon, or local min'yo folk songs. Consequently, the Bon dance will look and sound different from region to region."

Typically each neighborhood holds its own Bon Odori festival in their local park.  This past weekend the base held one open the the public.  In the afternoon they had the American festival involving a concert, an eating contest, and food stands.  In the evening everyone gathered around the big tall stage covered in paper lanterns to watch the Bon Odori dancers and drummers.

We actually got to attend the Bon Odori last year soon after we arrived in Japan, but it's still always fun to eat all the goodies, hang out with all of our friends, and get dressed up.   

We had a difficult time getting everyone to look at the camera.

...and look good.  Our last family photo for a while.