Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Chicken Little

I had a huge post all typed up and ready to go: "Blogging the Unbloggables". But I chickened out of posting it. Just not ready to go there yet, there are still a few people who need to know everything, but they're still completely clueless (not my decision), and I'd hate to have them find out by stumbling across my blog, no matter how remote the chance is.

Suffice it to say, we're hanging in there. My good days are nearly equal in number to my bad days now, so that's a positive thing, but the bad days are still really bad.

No news about my job turning full time, which is very worrisome.

All ready for X-mas, I managed to decorate as usual, maybe even a little more than usual this year and I probably went a bit overboard on gifts for the kids, but they deserve it, Christmas morning will be a happy and welcome distraction.

Not the greatest pic, but the smile on Ethan's face is priceless! Look at that huge dimple! He was soooooooooooooooooo excited to see St. Nick, who arrived on the back of a huge fire truck! I thought he might pee his pants (E, not Santa)! This is the first year he really "gets it", understanding who Santa is and what happens Xmas morning, and the first year he wasn't scared completely shitless of the huge man with the crazy white beard, dressed all in red bellowing "HO! HO! HO! Come sit on my lap little boy!"




Hope Christmas finds you all happy, healthy and looking forward to the new year!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

So Incredibly Thankful

Thanksgiving eve found me hosting a full-blown, bring-down-the-roof pity party. Desperately sad and certain that this year I had absolutely nothing to be thankful for.

So wrong.







Happy Thanksgiving from me and mine, to you and yours!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Scholars AND Athletes

Sorry, but I've got to brag on my kiddos a bit. Since I know I can't take any credit at all for how well they're turing out, I don't think it really counts as bragging though, just an expression of my awe and admiration. I don't know where these kids came from. I was a highly unmotivated student in school, scraping by with barely average grades, I even tried to drop out my senior year! And sports? Unless doing donuts on the football field, under the cover of darkness, then running from the cops has become an accredited high school sporting event, I was definitely not the sporting type!

Meg is loving her cheer squad, they cheered for their first game last Saturday.

Gabi just returned from CC Finals in Misawa, she didn't have a great race, it was freeeeeeeeezing up there, they ran in the snow! But she had a great year, placing 2nd or 3rd for her team at every race. Just got her report card, all A's and 1 B+ ( in Japanese III ). I think she just may be a keeper! Haven't gotten Meg's report yet, but I check their progress weekly and she's doing really well too.





Gabi and her BFF K (in blue) running at Atsugi two weeks ago

Not a scholar or an athlete yet, but he sure is cute!






Sunday, November 1, 2009

A little blogging break

My world is a bit topsy-turvy right now (that's the G-rated description). Quite a bit of crapola going on at the moment, so I might not be blogging for awhile, at least until I can stop the downward spiral and regain my equilibrium.

Work is great though, and the kids are all healthy and coping. A few update bullets:

- Gabi's cross-country season has gone well, they have Far East finals at Misawa, about 400 miles north of here, next weekend. She's enjoying ROTC where she's the Public Affairs Officer.

- Meg got the first half (top) of her braces last month, she's done really well and her teeth already look so much better! She started cheerleading a few days ago, something she's been wanting to do for a while.

- Ethan moves to an English pre-school tomorrow. I'm so sad to move him from his yochien, he loves it and his sensei so much. When I told his sensei he'd be leaving she actually cried! And it turns out he ONLY speaks Japanese at school!!!!! You could have knocked me over with a feather when I heard that! His sensei says he actually won't respond if she speaks to him in English! I'm so happy! I've bought tons of Japanese DVDs and books (Gabi and Meg can both read hiragana and katakana, so they can read all of his books to him) so hopefully he'll retain some of it. I'd love to get him into a Japanese playgroup.

Now that I'm working there's just no way he could stay at the yochien, where of course they follow the Japanese school and holiday schedule, which isn't even remotely close to the American school and holiday schedule, which is what we follow on base. Another bonus is that his new school is less than 1/2 mile from my office, his yochien is about 15 miles in the opposite direction (which equates to at least a 30 min drive here in Japan). Plus, I've blogged before about how worried I was that he'd be really far behind his American peers when he starts kindy next year, and this new school has a really great academic program. So, with a heavy heart, I decided it was best to switch him to this new school that just opened last month.

- Work is great, I'm learning lots of new stuff, and it's all very interesting. One thing I love about the Department of Defense is that they spend A LOT of money on training, so I'll be going to lots of classes, conferences and workshops on their dime, to help me learn about support agreements, international business/relations and other aspects of my job, which is something I'll be able to take with me wherever I go. Work is my escape now, I stay pretty busy, so for those 8 or so hours I can just forget what's going on with the rest of my life. My co-workers are a pretty fun bunch of guys, so they keep me laughing, which is always a good thing. As you can imagine in an office full of only men, there's lots of burping, farting and cussing going on, but they try to be mindful of my "feminine sensibilities". Yeah, right, LOL! Wonder what they'd do if I just ripped a big one? It's actually kind of liberating to be able to let loose with a "What the F$@# ????" every now and again without having to worry about little ears or horrified gasps!

- I took the kids to Disneyland and DisneySea last week, we had a great time, but it was crazy crowded! We'll definitely have to go back again on a day that isn't so insane, like a Tuesday or Wednesday during a non-holiday season.

- I'm hoping to visit Sorbi in Osaka again this month (she came up with her family in Sept while Rob was here, and we went down to her house for 3 days. Still haven't gotten around to blogging about all that). We're planning to drive to Obama, just because it's......well, a town called OBAMA!!!!

Guess that's about it. Hope everyone had a happy Halloween!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

'Ritaville International - Day 1 (I think)

Wow, what an awesome 10 days! We did SO MUCH in such a short time. My memory's a little foggy on sthe pecifics, but I've got the major details.

Robin arrived Thursday afternoon, I drove to Narita to pick her up. We got stuck in a bit of traffic and got back to my house in the early evening. We were planning to head out for din-din, but since we were leaving bright and early Friday morning, decided to just relax at my place instead.

Headed for T-town as soon as we put E on the bus. We stayed at the Tokyo Prince hotel, right at the base of Tokyo Tower. The Prince Tokyo's shtick is that they haven't changed the hotel since the early 70's. I was worried that meant we'd be staying in an run-down, 30 year old pile of crap, but it was really nice. It's been very well maintained and everything looked great. They even still have actual keys for the doors! And a huge, FREE parking lot, which is pretty amazing in downtown Tokyo!


We parked the car and struck off for Tokyo Tower, literally a 10 minute walk.

This was a pretty, little park just behind/below the T-Tower. Hard to believe we were smack-dab in the middle of the biggest city in the world!


Looking down on the Prince from T-tower

My foot in Tokyo Tower

In the elevator heading back down


Next we headed for Shibuya to meet the famous Hachiko and take a walk through the busiest intersection in the world. For those of you who don't know, Richard Gere (hubba hubba) has a new movie coming out called "Hachi" based on the story of Hachiko, so I thought it'd be cool for Rob to go there.



We ducked into a Tenkaippin for R's first real Japanese meal, she had a massive bowl of ramen and an order of gyozas (okay, so they're actually Chinese, but they're still very Japanese), she loved them both so much we had the same thing for lunch the next day!


Night view of Tokyo Tower FROM OUR ROOM!!!! How awesome is that?


Our poor, exhausted dogs on our hotel "balcony" .









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Friday, September 25, 2009

Unbelievably...........

...fun, and unbelievably exhausting! Just back (as in 20 minutes ago) from a ridiculously fast trip to Osaka with our best pal Sorbi. Only 3 more days left of Rob's trip. Posts of all our awesome adventures coming soon!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My stomache hurts from laughing.....

....and I think I peed my pants! This is seriously the funniest thing I've read in a looooooooooong time! The Magic Forest. A seriously awesome post Dutch!

*On an odd note, we have that exact hot dog statue in Narita airport! It totally freaked Ethan out when we were there last week. Who would have ever thought there could be two of those in the world! A hot dog in tennis shoes, preparing himself to be eaten? Weird.

I'm sooooooooooooo excited!

My BFF lands at Narita in T - 45 hours! Woo hoo! I can't wait!!!!!!

7 or 8 years ago, Rob and I started taking trips together, just the two of us, once or twice a year. We call them "Margaritaville". So far we've been to: Helen, Georgia (a cute little Bavarian-themed town in N. Georgia), Niagra Falls, NYC (hands-down the most awesome trip ever), Orlando, Florida, we had a mini-Margaritaville in Tampa while I was preggers w/ E, we hauled all the kids to Chatanooga, Tennessee for a "Milk-ville"

I've been working feverishly on our itinerary for months, of course, and even now, less than two days before the commencment of Margaritaville International - 2009 (maybe it should be Sake-ville?), I'm still revising, adding, taking away, there's just soooooooo much to see and do, and soooooo little time!

And the 'ritaville bonus this year: our Junior year of high school, we befriended (read: thoroughly corrupted) a Japanese exchange student, whom we nicknamed "Sorbi". Sorb is from Osaka, and a couple of months ago, after almost 22 years, we were all reunited via FaceBook!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sorb and her family will be coming up from Osaka on Sunday, and Rob and I will be returning to Osaka w/ them on Wednesday. I so freakin' excited!!!!!

The current itinerary:

Thursday: pick-up at Narita. We'll just hang out at my house and relax, walk down the street to my fave little Chinese restaurant, The Wok, make some 'ritas and yak all night. Otis always asks "You've been best friends for 25 years, how can you still have anything to talk about?" Men! Completely clueless!

Friday: put E on the bus and head for Tokyo. We'll be going to, in no real order yet: Tokyo Tower, Asakusa, Roppongi (mainly for Tokyo CityView), Shibuya, Ameyoko, maybe Ginza if there's time. There'll be lots of aimless wandering too. We're spending Fri and Sat night in Tokyo. Dinner at Mai Thai in Ebisu one night, maybe Yebisu Garden the other night.

Sunday: b'fast at the New Sanno, Shinjuku Gyoen, then back to my house to get ready for Sorb's arrival. Sunday evening we'll have a backyard BBQ. More 'ritas (I'm sure Sorbi will need to be re-corrupted!) and gabbing late into the night.

Monday: Takao-san, then bowling and Thai food for dinner

Tuesday: Hakone, then back here for dinner at a yakiniku place

Wednesday: Heading for Osaka bright and early (via car)

Thursday: Sorb will tour us around and we're going for karaoke that night

Friday: leave Osaka (via shinkansen) around 11:00a heading for Yokohama. Tour Chinatown, Landmark Tower, etc.

Saturday: Kamakura and Enoshima. Head for Tokyo Saturday night, staying in Tokyo again Sat and Sun nights.

Sunday: Harajuku and Yoyogi Park, last minute shopping, dinner at Ninnikuya in Ebisu.

Monday: We'll part company at the New Sanno, Rob taking the bus to the airport, me catching a bus back to the base.

My sweet hubs has taken off work Wed - Fri so that I can ditch that kid o' mine, and he'll drop him at my neighbor's house on Monday until I get home.

Whew! Are you tired yet? I can't wait! I can't wait! I can't wait! Got to get busy on the sign for the airport! And where'd I put my head panties?

Monday, September 14, 2009

School Days

The girls started back to school on Aug. 31, Gabi into 10th and Meg into 7th.

The start of a new school year/end of summer vacation just doesn't hold much significance for me anymore (except for the gobs of $$$$$ dropped on new clothes and school supplies). While my neighbors were all running around naked and showering themselves in beer, making plans for kid-free lunches and shopping trips, for me it was.....eh. The girls are so big now, so independent, they've got their own lives and their own things going on, perfectly able to take care of themselves, entertain themselves, not much use for ol' mom anymore (unless $$$$$ is involved, of course!) Having them home for the summer doesn't change my routine at all, I'm still able to go and do, lunch and shop, whatever, without needing to deal with them. And they're more than capable of looking after E whenever I need it. Now if I could just get them to cook dinner, and do the laundry, I'd be set!











Thursday, September 10, 2009

Hooray for me!

I didn't post about this before, because I didn't want to jinx it, but now I can tell you...... I GOT A JOB! Woo hoo! It's just part-time right now, which is better for me b/c of Ethan's current school schedule, and my BFF will be here for 10 days next week (double WOO HOO!), but I'm hoping, hoping, hoping that it will turn full-time around Nov - Dec!

It's just administrative work, but that's what I really like doing, and I'll be working on a really interesting project that I think will be challenging without being too taxing, and I'll get to learn about new things. All my administartive experience to date has been in the medical field, so I'm excited to be branching out. The job is just temporary, for one year, so that's perfect too (I always get guilt-gut when I accept a job knowing we'll be moving after only a year or two).

I've worked 5 days so far, about 4 - 5 hours each day and it's been awesome. I love getting up in the morning and dressing up with my heels and jewelry, doing my hair and make-up, as opposed throwing on sweats and a t-shirt and smashing my hair up in a pony. Everyone in the office seems great, but after October, I'll be the only female in the group. Maybe that'll be a good thing, none of the usual catiness and bitchiness or typical office drama and gossip to deal with. Although I do love a good goss over a cuppa as much as the next gal, I can do without all the other junk.

So that's my news! Yay me!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Just sad.

I've been feeling a bit down the last few weeks. Everything is just a little less sunny, I feel just a little bit sadder.

We officially have less than 12 months left in Japan; now everything I do is tinged with "This is my last......." We've past our last Tanabata season, attended our last Friendship Festival, started our last school year, spent our last Labor Day in Japan......I'm really trying to make the most of everyday, knowing it's the last, but how do I get passed the sadness? We've got some really fun stuff planned over the next 6 months, and while I'm excited and know we'll have a lot of fun and make some great memories for the kids, I know that each and every one these activities will be the last.

I'm not exaggerating when I say there is something every, single day that brings tears to my eyes, some days it's a full-on break down, but usually I just get a little misty eyed. I'm constantly counting down in my head, constantly feeling the sadness and dread of what's to come, leaving Japan. Bleh.

(Edited: Now that I've gone back a few hours later and re-read this, it sounds a little over the top, a little crazy, but it's honestly how I'm feeling right now. Just sad.)

Friday, September 4, 2009

I'm still cool, right?

I mean, I think I'm still pretty cool, but when my daughters saw this video of my fave band at age 13, I lost MAJOR cool points. My husband has NEVER even heard of Strawberry Switchblade, and neither have any of the friends I've polled. How is that possible? Please tell me someone out there in bloggy land loved them too!

P.S. I love YouTube! I could literally watch videos there all day, so much awesome stuff!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

My blonde comes from a bottle...

I swear!

Last night I went to Cainz (like a Home Depot) in search of some much needed organizing boxes/bins/shelves. They had a big display of really cool solar powered sidewalk lights. I picked up a very pretty one and thought, just for the tiniest of seconds, "I wonder if this works on American......." Amercian what? SUNLIGHT? D'oh!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

4th of July

I figured I'd better blog about Independence Day before Labor Day rolls around. I also needed to get some space between that pic of my squishy hip, and the top of the page!

The Services Squadron put on an awesome July 4th Festival this year. Lots of fun, food and entertainment, and all of it was free!

There were bouncy castles and other carnival rides for the kids, a petting zoo, BBQ buffet, drinks, sno cones and live music, it was really an all-American 4th of July celebration, ending of course with a spectacular fireworks display. And did I mention that it was all free?

As you know, Otis and Meg were in the States most of July, Gabi went to the fest w/ her friends, so it was just me and E. We stayed for about 2 hours, stuffed ourselves with all the free food, enjoyed my fave Air Force Band of the Pacific, Pacific Trends, Ethan jumped for a while in Scooby Doo's belly, took a few spins on the mini go-carts and made nice with a massive, mutant bunny. Later on we met some friends for more food and watched the fireworks (E hates fireworks, but he endures them for mommy, I looooooove fireworks!). We had a really great day and completely exhausted ourselves.














Saturday, August 29, 2009

Love hurts

Hoop love, that is. Just as I suspected I woke up today with a doozy of a bruise on my right hip (I uploaded it small to spare you a little from my flab and stretch marks!). Surprisingly, I'm only a little tender around my hips, not sore at all, and nothing hurt when I broke out the hoop this morning!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Hoop Update

I've been hooping (or attempting to hoop) off and on for nearly 12 hours now, and there's definte progress! My form needs serious work, I look like I'm channeling about 10,000 kilowatts of electricity as I flail about inside a sparkling rainbow, but I'm able to keep the hoop up for nearly a full minute!

Who knew hooping could hurt so much? I'm sure I'm going to wake up with bruises in the morning.

Hoop Love at Last!




I've finally taken the first step towards something I've been interested in for a long time. Hoop Dance!

I became interested in hooping over 2 years ago. When we found out we were coming to Japan, I scoured the internet for months looking for anything and everything I could find about Japan. That's actually how I found many of the blogs I follow now.

In my obsessive searching, I came across the absolutely hoop-awesome Sushi Zume Tokyo. Deanne is just.......indescribable, a hooping goddess. She's funky, fresh, hip, oh-so-creative and totally addicted to hooping. When I first started following her blog, she had just started hooping as a hobby and was still teaching kindy. Eventually she stopped teaching to hoop full time! She's built this whole hoop-tastic world where she teaches hoop dance and does her own hoop dance free-lancing thing where she puts on hoop shows and clubs and parties, etc. So awesome.

Not long after I found Deanne, Lulu, who also lives in Japan and who I'd already been following began hooping too. I still have dreams of the three of us hooping together in Yoyogi park. Although Lulu will probably be spinning with Goma-chan strapped to her back!

As always, I procrastinated in epic proportions, and never got around to getting my big ol' booty inside a hoop. But that ended today! I ordered a rainbow hoop from eBay and my sparkly bit of circular fun arrived yesterday. Big thanks to Amanda, the Supa Dupa Hula Hoopa, for making my first hoop! She's a beauty!

I've tried it out off and on all today. I've only managed to keep it spinning once, for about 15 seconds. Grrrrrrrrrr But it's really fun (and funny, apparently) and I work up quite a sweat in my efforts. The girls have been showing me up all day (when they weren't bustin' a gut laughing at me) hooping for 15 minutes straight, doing all kinds of tricks, double hooping, I'm thinking they both may find hoops under the tree on Xmas.

In my disasterous hooping defense, I've never hooped in my life. Not even as a kid. Otis was surprised to learn that I didn't own a hoop as a little girl, but it just wasn't my thing back then. I did, however, kick butt with a Lemon Skip It - did anybody else have one of these? You put your foot through the loop and it rests around your ankle, then you skip and jump over the cord as you spin it round and round with your foot. I totally rocked that lemon when I was kid, I think my record was like 550 skips!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Kaeru Matsuri

Back in June when we went to see Matsumoto Castle, we happily stumbled upon the Kaeru Matsuri (Frog Festival) going on along the Metoba (I think. Fuka-chan, do you know?) river. I don't know if it's an annual event (Fuka-chan?) but it was fun, and we had a good time.

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There were booths and tents set up along the river, selling all kinds of frog stuff, there were frog crafts for the kids to make, and all sorts of froggy games.

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Before we came upon the festival, we were walking behind this group of kids, all dressed in green. This was during the Iranian election protests when everyone was wearing green to show their support and we thought "That's kind of weird, but great, they're supporting democracy in Iran!" Turns out they were dressed up for the frog festival! D'oh! (In our defense, that guy was not wearing the frog hat when we first saw them)

The first tent was run by some Japanese scouts, there were all sorts of froggy crafts for kids to do for free. E made a cute little wooden frog charm.



We poked along down the river, checking out all the vendors, I bought a few froggy wares and we watched some of the performers that were set up along the street.

When you bought something from one of the vendors, you got a ticket good for one play at various carnival-type games, Ethan wanted to play the ball toss game that was down in the river
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We bought some tomatoe flavored gelato (blech!), and fresh squeezed orange juice, then packed in and headed for a big farmers market that was supposed to be in the area. We never found it and ended up driving all the way to Nagano! We finally made it back home after a 5 hour drive, the expressway was jammed packed, as usual for a Sunday evening!

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Stupid F%&*$# Blogger

Definitely not a great welcome back from Blogger! That last post? Took me over an hour to get it up! And the spacing is still crap! But now it's past 11:00p and I'm exhausted, so it is what it is. Better than no post at all I suppose. Grrrrrrrrrrrrr

Gundam

Last month, thanks to the tip by Tokyo5, Gabi, Ethan and I headed to Odaiba to see the life size Gundam robot. The robot was erected for the celebration of Gundam's 30th anniversary and is on display until Aug 31.

It had been a blazing hot day, so we waited til late afternoon before heading over from the New Sanno (we were spending 3 days in T-town for my b-day). We stopped at Decks, a great mall in Odaiba, for dinner at one of my favorite restuarants, Ku'aina. They have awesome burgers, I had a pineapple cheeseburger. YUMMO!





Outside Decks.
Yes, that's the Statue of Liberty, with the Rainbow Bridge in the background.

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Ethan was very excited in the days leading up to the trip. "Today? Is Gundam today?" He wiggled and squirmed all through dinner at Ku'aina, fairly bursting with excitement. But knowing him like I do, I tried to warn him that the robot was going to be HUGE, but he just couldn't grasp the concept, and a gigantic robot just seemed like all his wildest dreams come true.

As we rounded the corner and the robot came into view, he stopped dead in his tracks, completely stunned, then said "Um, I changed my mind, can we go to Toys R Us now?"


We sat at a "safe" distance for awhile, watching as the crowd milled around the robot and walked under it, between its legs. Finally, he decided it was all okay. "I was just kidding" he informed me.


We headed up to the queue and made our way between Gundam's legs, then went back to our spot on top of the hill and waited for the action.


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video


It was everything we hoped it would be, and we had a great time. We're planning to go back again this weekend, taking our neighbors who have 3 young boys, and Meg, who of course was in FL when we went the first time. Otis has had some kind of work related crap every single weekend since he's been home, and this weekend he's on call, so he'll miss Gundam. Too bad.

If you're in Tokyo before the 31st, definitely head to Odaiba!


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