Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Oki All Day!

Still need to post about my Mother's Day weekend.  The kids and I headed to Yokosuka/Yokohama for 3 days (even played hooky from school and work for an extra long weekend!)  It was an awesome trip, and I've got tons of great pictures!

This weekend we're headed to Okinawa!!!!  WOO HOO!  I.cannot.wait!  Gabi made it to finals for track, and they're in Oki this year.  The school will be paying for everything, plane, hotel, meals, so I thought it'd be a good time for us to go since I wouldn't have to pay anything for her!  I found some dirt cheap tickets, so we head out on Saturday, coming home on Tuesday.  Yahoo! 

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Juicy Juuroku

(Sorry, couldn't think of a synonym for 'Sweet' that started with a 'J')

On Friday, my chubby-cheeked, sumo-thighed, afro-puffed baby girl  turned 16.  SIXTEEN!  My six-freakin-teen!  It just doesn't seem possible!  I seriously can't wrap my head around it.  How can she possibly be that old?  It seems like just yesterday that I couldn't close the lap bar on her booster seat because her chunky-monkey thighs were too fat!

Gabrielle Kyne' MaKenzie, my pride and joy.  Without a doubt the best daughter a mother could ever wish for.  She's so beautiful, so smart and has the biggest, kindest heart of anyone I've ever known.  She's so sweet and outgoing, she has a gazillion friends, because she literally never meets a stranger. She's been like that since she was the littlest girl.  I couldn't walk 10 feet in the grocery store, with her in the cart, without someone stopping me to tell me how cute and sweet she was.  She smiled and waved and blew kisses to everyone, all the time. 

She's an incredible big sister, always ready with help, or a hug, for M and E.  She helps Meg with her homework, and they still regularly cram together in the same bed at night.  She reads to Ethan in Japanese and plays Lego Stars Wars on the PlayStation whenever he asks.

She's a hard worker, so ambitious and such a perfectionist about everything she does.  I posted last summer about her first job; she was up at 5:30 every morning, 5 days a week, to catch the 6:30a bus to work, coming home on the 5:30p bus every evening!  How many 15 year olds would be motivated to work 12 hour day during their summer vacation? She asked if she could have 2 jobs this summer, "one serious job, to make real money, and one just for fun"!  I said no, because she's also signed up to take two online courses over the summer because she doesn't have enough time over her last two years of school to take all the classes she wants!  (I know that makes her sound like an unbelievably obnoxious goody-goody, but she's so not like that at all). Anytime I see any of her teachers out and about, they stop to tell me what a joy she is, and how happy they are to have her in class.

I know, GAG!  There's nothing worse than a mother bragging on and on about her kid!  But I always say that I can brag about G, because I take absolutely no credit for the wonderful young woman she's become.  I honestly have no idea how it's happened, but I know I had nothing to do with.  She's had the most screwed-up life, and has the most dysfunctional family ever.  Over the last 16 years, she's been the innocent victim bearing the brunt of every stupid decision I've made (and there have been MANY), the results of which would have left nearly anyone incapable of living a normal life, much less the joyous life Gabi has created for herself.  She has a million reason to be angry at the world, but somehow, she's just the opposite, full of nothing but love and happiness, and she regularly tells me that I'm her best friend.

I couldn't possibly be prouder of you Gabrielle.  You have grown into an incredible young woman.  I'm so excited about what the future has in store for you, there's no doubt in my mind that you will do amazing things with your life! I love you so much.

2 months

18 months old

2.5 years old

7th birthday, after a day on the boat

9 years old

Just before her13th birthday, in Atlanta

Saturday, May 15, 2010

My poor babies!

I'm not a gardener by any stretch of the imagination.  Both of my thumbs are black and moldy.  I've killed way more than my fair share of houseplants, flowers, shrubs, trees, even grass!  But last summer, inspired and aided by my expert gardener neighbor Sarah, I labored for hours clearing out the brown, dry, overgrown flowerbed beside my front porch.  I found a ridiculously hardy flowering bush (at least I think it's a bush) with the most beautiful bright pink and violet blossoms.  That thing grows at an astonishing rate, and spreads like wild fire!  So, so pretty.  Last year I just dropped the seeds in the flower bed, no holes dug, no dirt covering them, and they went crazy!  I fed and watered and weeded everyday.  I even put up a big beach umbrella everyday, during the hottest, sunniest time, to protect the tender, little shoots from too much sun.   I also transplanted a big elephant ear plant (don't know the real name) and had such a lovely garden when it was all grown in.  I loved sitting out on the lawn as the sun went down, just staring at it.

Over the long, cold winter, everything died and withered away.  There was literally nothing left but dirt.  I was so sad, but Sarah assured me everything was fine and that all my beauties would re-emerge in the spring.  I watched and worried for weeks, until finally, some tiny, little, green heads began poking their way through the dirt.  My scrappy little garden had made it!  Even my elephant ear had re-sprouted!  I was so excited, and so proud!

The base housing management office has really strict requirements for lawn maintenance, and if your grass gets too long, you get a ticket (3 tickets = your boss being notified that your place looks like crap and you refuse to do anything about it, which could mean a nasty write-up in your file, or even a fine)! They do yard inspections every Tuesday. Yeah, it sucks.  So, my lawn mower broke a few weeks ago and I haven't had a chance to get another one and my lawn was starting to look a little scraggly, so I called someone I saw advertising lawn care.  Two high school boys showed up this morning and started cutting the grass.  I didn't know they were coming today, and they didn't talk to me, or ask what or how I wanted the yard done.  But I didn't think much of it at the time.  I walked out the front door about 30 minutes into their work to check their progress. You've probably guessed where this is headed.......

I nearly crapped my pants right there on the front porch!  One of those little fuckers had WEED-WHACKED MY ENTIRE FLOWER BED!!!!!!!!  I swear I started gasping for breath, I was so shocked, just stood there for a few seconds with my mouth hanging open, eyes bugging out of my head.  HE WEED-WHACKED MY PRECIOUS BABIES!  BRUTALLY HACKED THEM ALL TO DEATH!  WTF?!?!?!?! 

Granted, nothing was flowering yet, and things looked a little overgrown, but that's how I like my garden.  I don't like straight, clean, orderly lines, I like my plants to look a little more......chaotic.  But it's ordered chaos.  It's very clearly a flower bed, a separate area from the lawn, and it definitely didn't look like a bed of weeds that needed to be exterminated!!!  I'm devastated!  I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to salvage the few little greenies that survived the massacre.  Tenderly clearing away the victims, giving some extra TLC to the wounded.  I'm so upset.  Even my elephant ear!  Annihilated!  There's NO WAY that beautiful green sprout, trying to stand so tall and proud, looked like a weed! 

The plant murderer looke suitable embarrassed and apologized, and even tried to water the bed a little later, but that shit still had the nerve to ask for payment!  That elephant ear cost $20 last year!  And the rest of the yard looked like crap, none of the actual weeds even got whacked!  Ethan could have done a better job cutting the grass with his safety scissors!  So I only paid them half of what I agreed to, and they will not be touching my yard again.  *Sigh*

This was last year.  My goldfish bowl on the front porch, and one of my elephant ears.

About halfway through last summer.  That's the transplanted elephant ear on the far right.

My crazy bush just starting out last summer.  These are on the side of the house.

This was my "before" picture for this year. 
I couldn't bring myself to take a picture post-slaughter. My poor, poor babies!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ho! Ho! Who?

Organizing my pictures tonight, and I came across these from Xmas.  Can't believe I forgot to post them!

That's ME! 
Playing Santa for our Culture Club Xmas party!  It was so mcuh fun.  The Japanese ladies didn't know it was me and were so shocked when Santa called them all by name and asked about their grandkids and husbands (I've known most of them the entire 2.5 years I've been here).  

I also got to snuggle several tiny babies for their first pix w/ St. Nick.  I think that was the best part!  It was fun to be able to let the mommies get really personalized pix, instead of the rushed, blurry mall-Santa pictures most of us got of our little ones.  I was able to take time to cuddle and calm the ones that were scared, and make sure everyone got the perfect shot.  Hmmmmm, maybe I've found a way to supplement my Christmas spending?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Matsui Jr. he's not!

Ethan has started his first season of baseball.  This is his first time playing any sport at all.  And it shows. 

He typically lasts about 15 minutes before the jumping around, dancing, typical bored kid stuff starts.  He rolls around on the ground, sits in the outfield picking dandelions and blades of grass, and spends more time watching planes taking off and landing on the runway directly behind the field (and cars driving past, and birds flying overhead, and ants on the ground....) than he does watching the ball. 

He has zero hand-eye coordination, he runs, and throws "like a girl" (according to his sisters), and 9 times out of 10, not only is his glove on the wrong hand, but it's also on backwards (???).  If he's playing first base, and the ball goes foul past third, he runs after it.  But when the balls rolls directly to his feet, he just stands there, completely oblivious.  

When the coach yells "Heads up" to let the kids know the ball's coming, E thinks his saying "Hands up" and both his arms shoot up into the air. 

His first at-bat, he ran straight for first base, and kept going into the outfield, zig-zagging all over the place, intent on not being "tagged" by the kid with the ball.  As the coach shouted from home for him to come back, he turned around and ran for home, straight up the middle, over the pitcher's mound. The second time he went straight from first to third, over the pitcher's mound.  He's now graduated to running the bases, in the right direction and in the right order, but he runs w w w i i i i i d d d d e and doesn't come within 3 feet of any of the bags.

But, he gets really excited when it's time for practice and games.  And he loves putting on his uniform.  And what is it with guys and high-fives?  He high-fives everyone, for everything, shouting "Good job buddy!"  "Great game guys!" 

Fortunately, at this age, the coaches are only concerned with teaching sportsmanship and basic fundamentals.  There are no strikes, or outs, and they don't keep score.  They just play for 60 minutes, and each kid gets to bat once in every inning.  He's having a lot of fun, almost as much fun as we have watching him!


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Samurai Daiko! Sore!

Oh yeah, baby!  I've joined a taiko (Japanese drum) team!

We have a Japanese-American drum team on base, there are about 10 of us, and we're taught by Hashimoto-sensei and his wife.  Practices are pretty instense, twice a week for 3 + hours each night.  Twice a month we travel to the nearby city of Hachioji to practice with a "professional" team, Jinba Taiko, and twice a month, they come to the base to practice with us.

During the late spring and summer, we perform at 2 - 3 festivals per month.  Tonight was my 3rd practice.  I only know one song so far (which I play veeeeerrrryyyy slowly) so it will be a while before I'm ready to join the team for real performances, but t's so much fun!  I have a "thing" for drums and am really loving being on the team.  It's a great work out too!