Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Go me!!



Those of you who know me may want to be sure you're sitting down when you read this entry.

I made fettucini alfredo tonight. Me. I cooked the whole thing. I made the sauce from SCRATCH!! It was delicious! Last week I did ribs in the crockpot and they came out awesome! I had to scoop them out with a big spoon because they were so tender they slid right off the bone when I tried to pick them up. Just call me Chef-girl-ardee :)

2nd 3rd Birthday

Ethan had a little b-day party at school today. I took cupcakes which the Japanese kids love, they don't do cupcakes here.



Ethan is now one of only two American kids in his class. The Japanese school year ends in March, the new year begins in April after a two week break. When he goes back in April he'll move up to the Preschool B class, at 4 he moves up to Kindi A, then on to Kindi B.



The 3rd little boy in line is Ethan's best buddy Taketo. He talks about him constantly and every little Japanese boy he sees is "Taketo".

Monday, February 25, 2008

So F%&@ing YUMMY


Yes, profanity is necessary. There's no other way to adequately convey the absolute devinity of this tiny triangle o' heaven. I think it's called a Choco Bite. It's a chocolate turnover (the pastry is chocolate flavored) with a big blob of melted chocolate in the middle. When you get one fresh and warm right from the oven........indescribable joy! And only 100Y, about $0.92!! Worth way more and SOOOOO addictive! Thankfully I'm still too timid to use the drive-thru, so it takes a bit of planning and effort to actually get one, otherwise I'd be hogging these babies down several times a day!
There are no McD's on my way to anywhere, so I have to go a good bit out of my way to get to one, and not all of them have parking, so since I need to actually park to go in and order, I can't go to some of them, so a bit of route planning and timing is usually required.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I LOVE TOKYO!!!

Tokyo Tower

I recently joined the Yokota Officers' Spouses Club, just in time for the Tri-Services luncheon in Tokyo! Every year the Tri-Services lunch brings together the Spouses clubs from the Air Force (Yokota), Army (Camp Zama) and Navy (Yokosuka and Atsugi), with each club taking a turn hosting each year; this year was our turn at Yokota. The luncheon is held at the New Sanno hotel in Tokyo. In case you don't feel like checking out the link: The New Sanno is an American-style hotel operated by the U.S Nave and is only for members of the U.S. military and their guests. It's in a great location in the middle of Tokyo, very close to Roppongi Hills. The rooms are super nice, they have 6 restaurants on site as well as an indoor pool. And our rates (based on Otis' rank) start at only $48/night! Anyway, the committee organizing this year's program (which I joined) decided to head to the hotel a day early to give us time to rehearse, set up and all that stuff. I had so much fun!

We took the 9:30 base shuttle bus ($5) to the New Sanno on Tuesday morning, arriveing just before 11:00a, I think there were 15 of us. I decided to head out and explore on my own since I wasn't interested in shopping, which is where the rest of the group was heading. The hotel is located near all the foreign embassies and there are lots of expats living in that area, it was really weird seeing so many non-Japanese people walking around. The only time I see non-Japanese people in Fussa is when I'm on base, I never see other Americans when I'm off base. Tuesday night I went into Roppongi for dinner with 2 other girls, we went to Tony Roma's. Roppongi was SO AWESOME! I'm definitely going back soon! The luncheon was a huge success, I think we had 99 people (97 ladies, 2 guys). We got back around 3:30p on Wednesday. Next I'm joining the Spring Bazaar committee.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Birthday Shoe Blues

After a flood of tears and coming very close to a tantrum in the middle of the department store, these are the shoes Ethan got for his birthday...



These are the ones he wanted.......





Birthday Boy


I can't believe my baby boy is 3!!! We just did cake and ice cream at home, no party or anything. He's having a party at school next week.



He got a really nice Cars carpet from his Aunt Rob, new shoes, some matchbox cars, and a Hannah Montana toothbrush.




Friday, February 15, 2008

Nihon Valentine's

The Japanese celebrate Valentine's Day, but in true Japanese fashion, they've added their own special twist: Feb. 14 is a celebration for men/boys, women typically give chocolate to their guys, to include friends and co-workers. We ladies get our own day on Mar. 14 called "White Day", but (I love this part!) the guys are supposed to give gifts that are 3 times the value of what they received on V-day! Woo hoo! While we're living in Japan we feel it's important to fully embrace Japanese customs and traditions, but at the same time it's equally important to be sure we hold on to our own special traditions. Translation: I'll be banking it on both days ;)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

My Valentine Fuji


This was my beautiful Valentine's Day view of Fuji San this morning! You never get to see her in the summer because the air so hazy, plus there's no snow, so although she's still impressive, it's nothing like this! I get this view nearly every day, but no matter how many times I see it, it never fails to take my breath away! Of course the picture could never do her justice, so you'll just have to come and see her for yourself :)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Fuji Sunset


Fuji San has been spectacular! The sunsets are so beautiful, I don't think I'll ever get tired of seeing her! This isn't the greatest shot, I need to wait about 15 more minutes when the pinks and purples set in, and I need to find a better vantage point somewhere off base, the lights from the runway are so bright they mess up the picture. Since we are down in the plains we are completely surrounded by mountains, soft rolling foothills to the north and Fuji San and a beautiful mountain range to the south...such an awesome change from FLAT, BROWN Florida!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Ethan in Concert

Ethan actually let me record him singing! He always refuses to sing on command and usually runs the other way when I pull out the camera, but for some reason tonight he was very cooperative!


video


video

video

The last one is my favorite, you can't understand a single word! He's singing the theme song to his favorite show "Mighty Machines". The first line is "Mighty machines, working for you doing mighty things, they're mighty machines!" (I'm not sure what was up with the hair)

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Snow Day, the Trilogy!



Snow again! There were still some patches of snow around from last weekend, but the majority of it was gone. Again the timing is perfect, it started snowing yesterday around 4p and it was still coming down pretty heavily when I went to bed at 11p, so the kids have all day today to enjoy it. We made 'ghetto' snow boots for the kids (taped plastic bags over their shoes), Ethan hated them but they worked great for the girls. Gabi's feet are HUGE, she fit in my size 9 boots! But I was wearing them, so she had to make do with the ghetto boots.

Last night about 9p it was still snowing really hard and it had gotten pretty deep. I had the blinds up on our sliding glass doors so we could watch it and suddenly the 3 year old girl from 2 doors down went running past in her pajamas. I stepped outside to make sure her parents knew she was out and all the families from the 3 buildings (ours and the ones in front and behind us) were coming out in the snow, so of course we all had to suit up and join them. It was a lot of fun, Otis even joined us and even Ethan had fun. We had a huge snowball fight and everybody made a snowman. Gabi and Otis did most of the work on ours. I'm sure Megan will end up sick again, she was just getting over her cough and she got totally soaked in the snowball fight.

Here are all the snow day pictures, the last 10 are from last night.

Monkeyin' Around

The kids and I went on a nice walk today. There's a big apartment complex off base, not too far from our gate, it has a really nice, brick bike path winding through the middle that has five different playgrounds along it's length. Ethan and I walk there a lot but it was the girls' first time. It was pretty cold, I think it's supposed to snow again this weekend!

After we got back the girls rode the shuttle bus to the library. I love that they're able to have so much freedom here, I have to worry more about their behavior when they're out alone than I do about their safety, they can take themselves to the movies and the indoor pool too, both are in walking distance of our house. And best of all they're able to get themselves to and from all their activities thanks to the shuttle bus, which frees up our schedule so much! And Megan rides her bike to school, we lived within walking distance of her school in Florida, but I NEVER would have felt safe with her going on her own. The down side though, which I really had a hard time with myself as I grew up, is that when you grow up in a cocoon like this it's really hard to make the transition back to being vigilant and cautious when you move back to the states, and it's pretty disheartening to realize that the world just isn't a safe place and it's filled with mean, selfish people who can and will hurt you if given half a chance. It took me years after moving back before I started becoming wary and careful and not automatically trusting of every person I came in contact with. But I wouldn't trade my childhood in Japan for anything and am thrilled at the chance for my kids to experience it all too!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Japanese Game Shows ROCK!

We watch a lot of Japanese TV, as much, if not more, than we watch American TV. Maybe we're hoping to absorb Japanese language by osmosis? Anyway, tonight we watched 1,000,000 Yen Come True (we think). One segment was called I'm Gonnna Get You (as near as we could figure). Here's the set up:

The game takes place on a field of astro turf, about the size of half a soccer field. In the center , on a small pedestal, is a tube containting 100,000Y. The contestants are a family of 3: Dad, Mom and Kid, dressed up like cats in gray body suits and grey helmets with cat ears. There are 5 super fast remote controled cars dressed up like mice, being controlled by 5 drivers, 3 of whom are "professional" remote control drivers. The object for the family is to protect the tube of money, which the mice cars are trying to knock over, while at the same time trying to catch the super fast mice cars and dropping them in cages on the outside of the field. The family has 10 minutes to catch all the mice to win the money. It was totally hilarious! But it's definitely one of the tamer game shows. They get really crazy on most of the shows!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

In case you care

Just in case anyone is tracking my progress, I created a new blog for my 101 Things in 1001 Days list. It will be easier to keep track of my progress and won't take up as much room in this blog.

My 101 List

Snow Day, The Sequel


Another snow day! Yay! It started snowing about 3am, again Otis felt it imperative that I know as soon as it started, so again, he woke me up to tell me. It came down heavily all day; it's 5pm now and there are still flurries. The picture on the right is the view from my bedroom window looking out over our backyard to our street. The kids were beyond excited, the last snow day they were in school all day and alot of the good snow was gone by the time they got home. Ethan loves the snow, but it's a long distance relationship, he has absolutely no desire to go outside. I took him out this morning and he sat in a chair under the neighbor's canopy the whole time; he just likes to sit at the back door and watch it.

This has been a perfect winter for us. It's our first true winter in 10 years; we got cold weather in north Florida, even some frost, but we also had lots of days when the temp reached the 70s or higher and in Tampa the mercury very rarely dipped below 40 degrees. The temperature here started going down really slowly, nothing dramatic, at just the right speed for us to adjust nicely. We've only had a few days of freezing temps, and plenty of nice, mild winter days with lots of sun shine. The snow fall is perfect too, it's enough to give everything that pretty, winter wonderland look and deep enough for the kids to play in, but it's not deep enough to close the schools (a vitally important factor) or make driving difficult.

So far all the seasons here have been picture-perfect. The Fall was so beautiful, again it was our first true autumn in 10 years and the changing leaves were so vibrant. I'm very excited about my first spring here, I know the cherry blossoms will be spectacular!
Here are the rest of the pix, pictures 10 - 18 are the ones from today.

Major Blog Envy

I'm now totally addicted to reading other people's blogs. No one I know mind you, the blogs I love all belong to people I've never met. It's a little weird actually, being able to peek inside the daily lives of complete strangers, but I love it and look forward to checking in on all the people I've come to sort of think of as friends (does that sound kind of creepy and make it seem like my life is empty and pathetic?). Anyway, here a few of the blogs I really like: Dooce is far and away my favorite, Heather is hilarious and I love her honesty. Kern's Japan Blog was great to read before we got here, he has tons of info on life in Japan. Jen Pack is actually someone I have met before, she lives on Yokota and I see her around the base from time to time, again, really great info on living in Japan. I also love satifying my voyueristic urges at Post Secret.

In perusing some of the millions of blogs people have created out there, I've come down with a pretty serious case blog envy. Some of the blog designs are so cute! And the writing is seriously good, it's creative, witty and really interesting! Hopefully in time I can smooth out some of the rough edges of this blog, I'd love to learn more about blog designing and my writing skills can always use some polish.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Confessions of a Daiso Addict

The girls and I took the train to Machida today (Ethan and Otis stayed home, E is still recuperating from his cold). It was Megan's first train ride, she really loved it. The main purpose of our trip was to hit the Daiso, or 100 Yen store. Machida is also the closest place to us with a TGI Fridays, and it's a fun place to just wander around soaking up all that is Japan.

Daiso is so AWESOME! They're all over the place, we have at least 10 just around the base, but the one in Machida is the biggest in Japan, 5 floors! Daiso is like our Dollar Tree in the states, only WAY better! They have tons of great stuff, not the typical you-get-what-you-pay-for junk in U.S. stores, they have everything from snacks to motor oil, lots of great dishes, a huge selection of really cute stationary/office supplies, it's a fantastic place for sourveneirs and just about anything else you can think of. Not to mention the fact that on a good day, 100Y is actually only about $0.88! The only problem is that you very quickly end up with 50 things in your basket, things you didn't even know you needed until you saw them for only 100Y, at which time they become something you absolutely have to have, and suddenly 5000Y doesn't sound like quite the great deal that 100Y was! I did okay today though, we only spent 1100Y.

We left from Higashi Fussa station, it's a smaller station a little closer to the base than the station most people use (Fussa). It's such a smaller station, there are no station attendants, only one ticket-purchasing machine and no ticket-taking machines (normally to get down to the train platform you have to insert your ticket in a machine, pass thru and get your ticket out on the other end. When you reach your destination you put your ticket in the machine as you exit, an alarm sounds if you pass thru without inserting a ticket). Anyway, Higashi Fussa is too small for any of that stuff and when we got there the ticket machine was turned off and had a sign on it, all in Japanese of course! Since you don't need a ticket to get to the platform at this station we were able to get on the train without them, but I knew we wouldn't be able to leave the station in Machida without tickets. There are Fare Adjustment windows in the bigger stations where you can pay the difference or get refunds in the event you purchase a ticket for the wrong amount, so I took a picture of the sign and when we got to Machida I showed the pic to the lady at the Fare Adjustment window and paid our fare. As it turns out the picture was totally unecessary because the attendant spoke perfect English, but I was pretty proud of my ingenuity! My creative communication skills have improved dramatically since moving here.

At the train station Megan tried out a "squatty potty", a Japanese style toilet. Suffice it to say her squatting technique needs quite a bit of work! Luckily we were only 4 stops from home.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Not Your Grandma's School Bus




Ethan has been home sick all week, he finally went back to school today!His bus ride to and from school is about an hour each way, even though the school is only about 15 miles away (traffic in Japan is absurd!). The school bus is so cute, it's a little mini-bus with little pre-school sized seats covered in a kitty-cat print vinyl, very Japanese. When Ethan got on the school bus this morning we saw that they had installed a DVD player and 10" monitors on the bus so the kids can watch TV on the long ride!