Monday, December 26, 2011

Another Blog......

....that sacrificed itself so that FaceBook could survive!  We're all still here, still doing pretty much the same old thing!

The kids are good, enjoying their Christmas break.  They get just over two weeks off, I think they go back to school on January 3.  Gabi is managing the HS girls' basketball team again this year, and Meg is actually playing on the JV squad!  She's never played basketball before, but seems to be enjoying it (I think she likes the shoes more than anything else!).  They're both doing well in school, though Gabrielle's got a major case of Senior-itis and is counting the days until graduation.

Ethan played soccer in the Fall, is still enjoying 1st grade and seems to have developed an affection for Barbies (which he tries desperately to hide and will deny to his death if confronted).  I tell him, every chance I get, that all kids are allowed to play with any toys they want, that there are no "boy" toys or "girl" toys, they're all just "toys" and regale him with tales of my Hot Wheels collection and favorite Star Wars action figures that I had as a little girl.  He's not at all convinced, and I'm sure he would be teased mercilessly at school if anyone found out.  I made the mistake of sending Girl Scout cookies in his lunch one day, and some little shit laughed at him for it!  Kids can be such jerks!

Work is good, pretty busy leading up to the holidays, when lots of the military folks take long vacations, so I was trying to cram in as much work as possible that required any input from any of them before they left.  I'm actively searching for another job.  My current job is scheduled to end in September 2012, and though there is the possibility of a one-year extension, I don't want to be in the same place I was a year ago and be completely screwed if it doesn't happen.  I'd really, really love to go to Korea next, but honestly, I'll take anything, anywhere.

We're heading to Guam for 5 days next month.  It's already so cold here, I can't wait for some sunshine and beach lounging!  Meg went to spend Thanksgiving with her dad, so she's happy to be going back again so soon.

Think that's pretty much it for us!  Nothing very exciting or blog worthy!  I guess that should be a good thing, considering how bad things were for me this time last year!  Wishing everyone (if there's even anyone left) a happy, healthy new year!!!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

All I Need is a Chopstick!

Last night, Ethan and I were leaving the football game, walking behind a dad and his young daughter.  Ethan turns to me and says "You know what makes me so sad?  When I see other kids with their dads and I don't have mine."  FUCK ME SIDEWAYS!  How in the hell am I supposed to respond to something like that?????  What am I supposed to say?  It was all I could do not to bust out crying right there on the sidewalk.  It completely caught me off guard.

In the 14 months since DB moved back to America, Ethan hasn't talked about him at all.  Never asks about him, never mentions him, nothing, ever.  DB calls every once in a while and E will happily chat away, but when the call is over, it's like it never happened.  I've tried a few times to bring up his dad, but I may as well be talking to him about the lifecycle of broccoli for all the interest he shows.  He's showed no ill effects of his dad being gone, he's the same happy, laid back kid he's always been, so this comment totally surprised me and nearly left me speechless.

Eventually I said, "Well, I bet your dad loves you more than any of those kids dads!"  Maybe not the best response, but I was literally at a loss for words, scrambling to find the right thing to say, wanting to ease his pain, while at the same time wanting him to know it's okay to be sad and to miss his dad.  I went on for a few minutes about always having his dad in his heart, and even though they're not together they'll always be a family, blah, blah, blah.  But in my head I was digging DB's brain out through his nose with a chopstick.

Friday, September 9, 2011

LOL (Lots of Love) for Gaijinwife

Please say a prayer, send a vibe, burn some incense, do your thing, whatever that thing is, for my friend Katy over at Gaijinwife.  Katy literally JUST lost her mom to brain cancer, less than 4 months ago, and has now found out that her dad has lung cancer.

Katy is a bloggy friend, we've never met face-to-face, but that doesn't seem to matter at all, I still consider her as much a friend as any one I've ever clinked margarita glasses with in real life.  The internet makes the huge, wide world seem like a really small place and through our blogs, a lot of us have shared many joys and pains, celebrations and sorrows.  Katy holds nothing back on her blog, she's honest, funny, caring and real, and she, along with many others, offered me support, comfort and encouragement as I weathered my own shit storm two years ago (although that crapfest was nothing compared to the hell Katy and her family are going through).  I hope I've been able to give a little of the same to her in return.

Be strong Katy, know that you've got an army of friends the world over cheering for you and ready to help and support you and your family in any way we can!  LOL

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Cuteness Overload



Nyan-chan (tho we all call her Baby Cat) joined our family about 6 weeks ago and is now probably the most spoiled kitten on the face of the earth.  

We all fight over whose lap she should cuddle in and whose bed she'll sleep in every night.  The girls "prepare" her food twice a day:  she eats a mixture of wet and dry food.  Since she only gets a little wet food at a time, the rest is kept in the refrigerator and the girls warm it in the microwave before giving it to her!  

Initially Meg insisted on changing the litter box everyday.  Not cleaning it, actually completely changing out the litter every.single.day, but I convinced her it was a waste of time and more importantly money, so she settled for scooping it 2 - 3 times a day, heaven forbid Nyan-chan should have to use a litter box with pee or poop already in it!

The girls also pooled their money and bought her a "cat condo", one of the those 3-level climbing things with a built-in bed and scratching post, and she has more toys than Ethan does.

Any time any one of the kids walks in the door, it's no longer "Hi Mom!" it's "Where's Baby Cat?"  Oh well, at least I'm not the one feeding and cleaning up after her like I usually am when we have a pet, I'll gladly take 2nd place in that case!  And she is awfully stinkin' cute!





Thursday, June 30, 2011

The big 4-Oh NOOOOOOO!

My 40th birthday is quickly approaching.  Bearing down on me like an out-of-control bullet train, and I'm tied to the tracks, helpless to avoid the impending carnage.  People say "age is nothing but a number" and "it's how you feel on the inside that counts!"  Yeah, well, guess what?  INSIDE I feel 60!!!!

The last two years have really kicked my ass emotionally, mentally, even physically.  I'm exhausted, disheartened, disappointed and discouraged.  I'm working really hard to get to a better place, and most days I'm okay.  Better than okay actually.  Most days I'm actually pretty good.  But with this major milestone birthday looming in just 13 days, I'm feeling......ill at ease.  A little shaky, very uncertain and more than a little sad when I look at where I am at this point in my life.  THIS is all I've managed to accomplish in my 4  decades on this planet?????  (Shit, in 10 short years I'll be half a century old!!!)

So, with all that negativity hanging over my head, I've decided to accomplish something monumental (well, monumental for me at least):

I'M GOING TO CLIMB MT. FUJI!!!!!

Somehow it just seems fitting, conquering that mountain, reaching the summit.  I'm hoping it will be the jump start I need to make forty a FABULOUS year.

So, T-8 days and counting.  I'll be climbing Fuji-san next Friday night with two co-workers (both much younger and in much better shape than me!).  I am determined to reach the top, to watch the sun rise on this new decade of my life.  Wish me luck!!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Beijing, baby! or China, please accept my humble apology.

Booked our tickets on Friday for 4 days in Beijing, the first weekend in September.

For whatever reason, I've never had any interest in visiting China, at all, ever.  It's just never interested me, and I've got a miles-long list of other Asian countries I must visit before we leave Japan, so I had no plans of ever going.  Honestly, when I thought of China the only things that came to mind are Communism, pollution and a massively huge population.  Then one day, Gabrielle mentioned she'd always wanted to visit the Great Wall.  Since she's shown absolutely ZERO interest in visiting or seeing anything at all the entire 4 years we've been here (sadly, she did not inherit my incurable wanderlust) I pounced like rabid cheetah.  WE ARE GOING TO CHINA!

Usually, I'm obsessive about trip planning, spending months and months in advance scouring the internet for any and every scrap of information about our destination, picking the perfect hotel, planning itineraries down to the minute, mapping out routes, deciding restaurants and meal plans for every single meal of every single day. I'm always so worried that we'll miss something awesome if the trip isn't meticulously planned in extensive detail (it sounds tedious, I know, but I absolutely love it, it's nearly as fun as the actual trip itself!).

Seeing as China's never been on my travel list and I couldn't think of a single thing we absolutely had to see, I figured this would be an easy trip to plan. Great Wall, check.  How will we ever spend the other 3 1/2 days???  After a little Googling to figure out how to entertain three bored kids in a completely foreign country for 3 1/2 days.........holy shit.  There is NO WAY we'll see even half the stuff I want to see in just 4 days!!!!  I honestly had no idea.  How could I not have known how awesome China is?  I feel like a stupid shmuck who's been left out of some kind of global secret.

I'm so freakin' excited about this trip!!!!!  I think we're going to need to extend it at least one more day. The only thing is, I booked for the weekend right after school starts, as it's a 4-day weekend for me, and a 3-day weekend for the kids, so they'd only miss 1 day of school and I wouldn't need to use any vacation days.  But it's China.  IT'S CHINA!  Surely they can miss two days of school to visit CHINA?!?!?!  Even if it's literally at the beginning of the school year, right?  GAAAHHH!!!!

Anybody ever been to Beijing?  Any tips, advice, "must see" spots?

China, I'm so very sorry I underestimated you all these years and I can't wait to meet you!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Things-I-Love Thursdays #2

It's been a rainy week, plenty wet to dampen even the brightest mood, but I've been okay, helped greatly by the 4-day wknd plus the additional 1.5 days I took off yesterday and today.  What a perfect segue to the first thing I'm loving:

1.  I LOVE my job.   I'm the only member of my department, besides the secretary I share with the rest of my section, which means there's not a whole of need for accounting for my time or my whereabouts.  It's the kind of program that no one ever notices, unless something goes horribly wrong, so I can pretty much do as I please as long as things stay on track.  No suspenses, no deadlines, no stress at all, and my schedule is super flexible.  I'm free to take off during the day to do dr and dentist appts w/ the kids, attend their school functions, have lunch w/ them.  Because my department works independently of all the other sections, with no real deadlines, I can take time off w/out worrying that others are being burdened by having to do my work while I'm gone, or that I'm preventing others from getting their work done b/c my work is missing.  There's nothing in my department that will suffer in my absence or that can't wait until I return.

2.  I love the brazen bamboo attempting a coup in my backyard.  I have a nice, thick stand of bamboo separating our yard from the neighbor's, and in the last 3-ish weeks, crazy shoots of bamboo have started exploding from the ground all over the backyard.  That stuff grows FAST, shooting up over 2 feet in less than a week!  Unfortunately, I'm going to have to hack most of it down as it's busting through my garden tiles, literally tossing them aside as it springs up, but it's fun to watch how fast it grows and seeing the random places it pops up.

3.  I love our new kitten, Nyan-chan, curled up purring on my lap.  It's been over ten years since we had a cat and I'd forgotten how sweet and cuddly kittens are.  She's also a lot fun to watch when she plays, jumping, pouncing and flipping all around, chasing anything that moves, including the cursor on my computer screen!

4.  I love curry, which is weird, because I HATED curry before I moved to Japan, couldn't even stand the smell of it.  And then, I was introduced to CoCo's Ichibanya.  Everyone around here absolutely raved about CoCo's curry, how addictive it was, insisting I'd love it.  The first time I had it, I really wasn't impressed.  It wasn't bad, but I really didn't see what all the fuss was about.  A few days later, I had the most incredible craving for more CoCo's and I've been hooked ever since.  Add some cheesy-garlic nan on the side........pure bliss.

Happy Thursday everyone, it's almost Friday!!!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Things-I-Love Thursdays

Over the last 18 months (Holy crap! Has it really been that long?) I've hosted far more than my fair share of pity parties. And while things are markedly better in that area these days, I'm still not quite "there". I'm no where near happy, but I am moving towards "okay" at a decent pace. I desperately WANT to be happy again, and I know that a big part of getting there, being truly happy, is being content with where I am in my life, being aware of, and grateful for, the things I have. I heard a saying the other day that expressed the place I'm hoping to reach "We may not be where we want to be, we may not be where we need to be, but we're damn glad not to be where we WERE".   I'm still not in that place yet, not yet happy that I'm not where I was, I'm not yet in the place where I'm convinced that I'm better off now than I was then, that here is so much better than "there".

In my effort to reach that happiness place, I'm earnestly seeking to live a more grateful life. I'm reading books on grateful living, started a gratitude journal, I'm giving meditation (and medication) a go, I recite daily affirmations, have inspirational quotes taped on the bathroom mirror, the refrigerator, my computer screen, the rearview mirror of my car, I even carry a "worry stone" in my pocket and every time I touch it, I think of something I'm grateful for. The idea is that eventually, being grateful, living gratefully, will become second nature and when you're grateful, you become a happier person and good things start to happen to you, or maybe you're just in the right frame of mind to start MAKING good things happen, either way, good things are bound to follow.

And so, I've decided to join other bloggers who post "Things-I-Love Thursdays" posts, to remind myself that there ARE things in this life, in this time and place, that I love, that make me happy and that I should appreciate, things I wouldn't have if I were "there", instead of here.  So here we go...

love the weather right now, it's one of my favorite times of year.  Summer is on it's way, but we're easing into it nice and slow, nights are the best, very pleasant and mild, perfect for long walks or just sitting on the back porch watching the bats flitting around.  Japan has four very distinct seasons, which I love.  In the part of Florida I was in before coming to Japan there was only one season:  hot.  Even after 3.5 years here in Japan, I'm still in love with the changing seasons.

I LOVE my backyard. It's my own private, little oasis, and I've been working on it slowly as the weather has gotten warmer.  I have my hammock up and about half of the patio tiles down. I've decided to put two comfy chairs and a cafe table on the porch, then a regular table and chairs under the gazebo (which won't go up until I get the rest of the patio tiles down and it's not a real gazebo, just the canopy type on a metal frame). The kids and I love eating dinner outside during the summer, so I'm really looking forward to finishing up.  We had to take a 3 bdrm house when we got here (after 2.5 mths of living in a hotel), but were eligible to move up to a 4 bdrm after 6 mths, but I love my backyard more than I'd like another bedroom, so we're staying put.

I've got kind of a love-hate thing going on with Japan right now, but it's mostly, almost always love, and the things I love here far outweigh the things I hate (maybe hate isn't even exactly the right word, maybe "tired of" or "frustrated with" is better)

The kids and I are going to Beijing in September, our first major vacation in over three years, and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the planning part of taking any trip. I spend hours scouring the internet finding just the right hotel, making a list of the must see attractions, printing out maps, planning itineraries. I'm an obsessive list maker and big trips are a major list-making event!

I love that I have friends who automatically think of spending time with ME when they stop breastfeeding! LMAO!  Planning a "girls' Tokyo weekend" with my beautiful Niigata neighbor in two short weeks, CAN'T WAIT!!!

I could probably come up with a few more things I'm really loving right now, but this is a good start!  Gotta go tuck my pumpkin into bed, tomorrow starts a four-day weekend for us, Monday is Memorial  Day in the U.S. and the military usually denotes the Friday before a Monday holiday as a "Family Day", but I'm going into work for a little while, and E will be going to daycare (because he loves it and always has a good time).



SDGH&GL
(this sign-off was shamelessly stolen from GW, but I changed her "QL" (quiet living) to "GL" (grateful living))

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Happy Birthday Gabi!

Proper post w/ pix in the works, but for now:


HAPPY 17TH (crap!!) BIRTHDAY GABRIELLE!  

Gabi is spending this very busy birthday weekend in Tokyo (what a life!).  Tonight is her school's prom, on her birthday, how awesome is that?  At the New Sanno, no less!  Gabi is on the prom committee, and they left for the hotel straight from school yesterday to start decorating.  Also today were the Kanto Plains Track & Field Finals in Haneda, so she was on the train bright and early this morning from Hiro-o to get to the meet, then rushed back to the hotel to get ready for the dance.  She'll spend tomorrow cleaning up and be home after lunch.                                                                                          This is her first birthday we've ever been apart, but I know it will probably be one of her best birthday's ever.  Have a great weekend Hootie, you deserve it!  I'm so incredibly proud of the woman you are becoming, I honestly couldn't ask for better kid, you're a wonderful daughter and such a great big sister. Meg, Ethan and I love you!!!

Friday, April 1, 2011

No mojo

No desire to blog at all.  Work?  Stress?  Worry?  Don't know, don't really care at the moment.  I went to Guam on the 22nd because G and E's accommodations weren't working out as I'd hoped, and I didn't want them back in Japan yet.  We stayed until the 28th, until I was out of vacation days and out of money.  We're all back in Japan, but I'm not happy about it.  


Things seem stable at the moment on the nuke front, but I only believe about half of what TEPCO and the GOJ are saying and I'd feel so much better if there were viable alternative for getting the kids out of here that I could live with.  Things are stable physically as well, I haven't felt a single tremor since we returned.  Gas and food/water were never in short supply on base and although rolling blackouts have been scheduled nearly every day, they've all been cancelled and we've never lost power.  So, other than the fear of my future grandchildren being born with two heads, things are okay.  Bleh.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

And then....

...what?  I don't even know where to begin.  The devastation being revealed in the aftermath of the quake and tsunami literally gets worse every.single.day.  It's so horrific, absolutely gut wrenching.  My heart breaks for Japan and her people, all those who've lost, or been lost.

Recovery efforts are in full swing, and I'm overjoyed to be playing a part.  I posted about the commercial planes that were diverted to our tiny air strip after the quake on Friday.  Two of the 11 planes ended up staying over night, which meant food and accommodations needed to be provided for the 630 passengers and crew.  I'm a Red Cross volunteer here and we were activated to set up the community center, process passengers and distribute meals.  It was a busy night, but it was good.  The RC volunteers were activated again Saturday evening to clean and stock one of the apartment buildings on base to house the relief teams that would be coming.  Another busy day.

On Saturday it quickly became clear that our base, because it's the airlift hub for the entire Pacific Air Force, would also become the hub for relief activity.  Relief workers and supplies process through our base on their way to Tohoku.  That means immigration/customs, food, accommodations, transportation, even vet/kennel support for relief workers (and search & rescue dogs!)  I work in the Logistics squadron, which, as it sounds, is responsible for all the logistical coordination of the disaster and relief personnel and supplies.  Plane loads of people and supplies started arriving on Saturday, so we've gone to 24/7 operations.  I worked a 12-hour shift on Sunday, 10 on Monday and again today.  I'm exhausted, but it's a good exhaustion.  It helps to know that, in some tiny way, I'm helping.

Now we've got the impending (or not?) nuclear "crisis".  What a cluster fuck!  It's so horrible, as if Japan hasn't suffered enough, now there's this.  It's IMPOSSIBLE to get a clear answer or any kind of direction.  On one end of the spectrum, the "experts" are insisting there's absolutely no threat of any harm, even in the absolute worst case of complete nuclear meltdown.  On the far, opposite end, you've got "experts" saying there's a very real, very probable threat of radiation contamination and sickness.  It's so terrible not knowing what's going on.  Some people saying we should stay, everything's fine.  Others are saying go, as quickly as possible?!?!  WHAT ARE WE SUPPOSED TO DO???  Who's right?  Both sides provide very credible arguments and seemingly scientific evidence, and they completely contradict each other.  It's so confusing, and so scary.  I don't want to panic, I'm trying to stay calm, be reasonable, but CRAP!  I'm a single parent with 3 kids to consider.  I can't sleep, can't eat (not necessarily a bad thing) I've been so torn up over what to do.  Stay, or go?  Disrupt my kids lives, again, shell out a buttload of money and ship them out of the country, or stay and risk who knows what?

So, after agonizing all day, begging for advice from damn near every person who had the misfortune of crossing my path today, hours spent pouring over every report and analysis of the nuclear situation that I could get my paws on, I've finally decided to send the kids to Guam.  It's just not worth the risk.  I may head south for a few days myself, not sure yet.  Everything is "wait and see" but that's such a scary position to be in.  Ugh.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Shaken, but okay

For those of you who aren't on FaceBook,  just wanted to let you know we're all okay.  Very minor damage, one of my kokeshi dolls lost her head, drawers and cabinets flung open, and there's one big crack in my dining room wall.

I'm worried about Meg, who is at her dad's in Guam.  They've been ordered to evacuate ahead of the predicted tsunami, but her dad thinks they'll be safe in their 11th floor apartment.  Obviously I am NOT okay with that decision.  They're condo is directly on the beach.  But there's not much I can do from here, except pray that he's right.

Narita airport is closed, and Sendai airport has literally been washed out, so lots of planes got diverted to our tiny airport here on the base, so we're packed to the gills with jumbo airliners.  I feel sorry for all those people trapped on the planes, who knows for how long.  And you know they're not getting a clear story about what's going on, it must be terrifying not knowing what's happening.

This is all very surreal, I can't quite wrapped my mind around everything I'm seeing and hearing.  I was at work as the quake struck.  People were jumping out of windows in my building.  The ground seemed to shake forever.  It was only about 4 minutes I think, but it felt like 40 minutes to me.  We were allowed to leave work right then, but I stayed for a while to help with safety checks.  Phones were out for quite a while, still no cell service right now.  Still feeling pretty powerful aftershocks.  I'm used to earthquakes after 3.5 years here in Japan, but this one was really scary.  Maybe because of the one that just hit New Zealand?  Not sure, but this one scared the crap out of me.  But, we're all okay.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow." ~Mary Anne Radmacher

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Toys R Us Kid!

Over the last year or so, Ethan has told me several times that he doesn't ever want to grow up.  He's said he doesn't want to be a grown-up and wants to be a kid forever.  I don't know what's prompting it.  The first time I told him about all the cool things "big kids" get to do and all the fun stuff he can do as a grown up, but he just got upset (he's a major drama queen).  After that, whenever he mentioned it, I'd just assure him that he had a long, long time before he had to worry about growing up.


His b-day is next week.  On Friday I asked him what kind of birthday cake he wanted.  He replied, "I don't want a birthday, I don't want to be 6!"  I tried to press him a little, "But it's your birthday!  It'll be a party, just for you, with cake and all your friends!"  He started to tear up, so I just dropped it.  Gabi piped up "But if you don't have a birthday party, you won't get any presents!"  He said he didn't care, he didn't want a party, or presents, he just wants to stay 5 forever.  I knew it wasn't a good time to explain that'd he'd be a year older whether we had a party or not, so we just changed the subject.


Tonight at dinner I tried again and he got really upset.  No birthday.  Period.  I feel so bad for him, I have no idea what's going on, what's spinning around in his beautiful brain, what kid doesn't want a birthday party?  *Sigh*  Poor punkin'.....


So, for now, we've compromised:  On Wednesday, the day BEFORE his birthday, we'll go bowling and have dinner at the bowling alley snack bar, (his favorite activity and his favorite place to eat) as long as it's just our regular Family Night and not in celebration of his b-day, but no friends and no cake.  I already ordered cupcakes for his class, he's okay with that as long as they're JUST a nice snack to share with his friends and NOT in celebration of his b-day.  He's also okay with 3 presents, one from Momo (grandma), one from me and one from his sisters as long as they're presents just because we love him, and not in celebration of his b-day.  He wouldn't even go for 4 presents, with each of his sisters getting him one, he said they should just give him one with both their names on it.


The bowling is what I had originally planned, but I was going to invite some of his buddies.  Thank goodness I'm such a horrible procrastinator and hadn't actually gotten around to inviting anyone, or ordering the cake, although I had arranged for a friend to make the cupcakes for school, ordered the cupcake toppers from e-Bay and gotten his prezzies.  My poor little pooper, I have no clue what's going on.  I'll just let it go and see how he is after his birthday, when the pressures off.

Friday, February 11, 2011

And away I go!

Heading for Guam on Thursday!!!!!!   ALL BY MYSELF!!!!  I'm already packed.  Pina coladas by the pool, warm sand between my toes, KMART 'til I puke!  I CAN'T WAIT!!!!!  If I don't come back:  Lily, you get Meg.  Gina, I positive Ethan will blend right in with your crew.  R, you know you get the big one.

Good grief, this is going to be the longest 6 days of my life!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Away......

I need to get away.

Away from the cold.

Away from these kids.

Away from this house.

Away from this base.

Away from Japan.

Away, away, away.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My Characters in Caricatures

In the fall of 2008, we went to a festival in Tokyo (can't remember now which one) and there was a tiny, old Japanese woman sitting on the ground, under a tree, drawing caricatures.  I'd always wanted to get one done of the kids, but for some reason had just never managed to do it, so we settled down on her mat and got one done, Japanese style (she drew in the peace fingers):




(no that's not mini-Richard Nixon)

When we were in Florida this summer we spent a day at a local boardwalk, where there was a guy doing caricatures in a little, mobile studio, so we stepped inside and got one done, American style (Ethan sat for 15 mins, holding up his peace fingers):


I really love them both, and can't wait to get them properly framed and hung.  Now I'm kicking myself for not having done them earlier, and more often.  Gabi especially was such a fat, cute baby, she would have been adorable as a cartoon!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

BFFs an Ocean Apart

This summer, Gabi experienced her first true heartbreak when her best friend moved back to America.  Gabi and Kelekah met the day we stepped off the plane in Japan, and were joined at the hip from that day forward.  They shared the same birthday, born literally within minutes of each other, and Kelekah lived in the exact same building that I lived in as a kid (just 3 buildings down from us).  And they both had little brothers 11 years younger than themselves.  Both are great students and runners, teammates on both the cross-country and track teams for 3 years.  

Fortunately K's family had arrived in Japan only a month before us, which meant the girls could count on at least 3 years together.  In the military, most families move every 3 - 4 years, so if you're unlucky enough to arrive at a base and become good friends with someone who's already been there 2 + years, chances are you won't be together long.  

G and K were completely inseparable at all times, so you can imagine their complete devastation when we learned K's family would be re-locating in July last year, especially considering we weren't planning on leaving Japan any time soon.

But there is a silver lining for the broken hearted BFFs:  Technology is a truly awesome thing!  G and K Skype regularly, at least 3 times a week.  They routinely hook up when one or the other is getting ready for school, and thanks to the portability of their laptops and handy-dandy webcams, they peruse each other's closets via internet "Wear that pink shirt, with those jeans!"  "What do you think of this scarf with that sweater?" and even take the laptop into the bathroom to experiment with hairstyles together!  

While we were still in the hotel, I found Gabi in the bathroom one Saturday night, pre-hair styling session (which explains the dead wombat on G's head), and found the girls playing a rousing game of UNO, together!  Thanks to technology, they can best friends forever, no matter how far apart they are!




We miss you Kelekah!


Friday, January 14, 2011

Happy Bloggiversary to me!!!!

Yikes!  I totally missed my own blog anniversary!  Exactly 3 years and two days ago, I started this blog.

Holy crap has my life ever changed in the last 36 months!!!  Absolutely nothing in my life today is how I imagined it would be just 3 short years ago.  In some ways it's kind of sad, but in other ways it's a really great thing.

I'm so, so happy I decided to start blogging, I have met some of the most amazing people over the last three years, all because of this blog.   To be honest, I now have more blogg-y friends reading my drivel than I do people who knew me before I started blogging!  I also really love that I have such a detailed account of the last three years, it's so neat to be able to read back and find out EXACTLY what we were doing at this exact point in our lives three years ago, and usually with pictures.  It's like a mini time machine!

When I started blogging, I was positive I'd run out of things to write about, I mean, my life isn't really all that exciting, but as it turns out, I have SO MUCH to blog about, that the only thing I run out of is the time to blog about it!

So - Happy Bloggiversary SakuraSlime!


(This is actually Lily, Masa and me toasting on the night I found out I'd made the applicant list for my job!  I was so happy that she was there to share that life-changing moment with me!  Yet another post I've never managed write!)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Post X-mas

So I've covered Xmas night, and now the day after, I'll get to Christmas day eventually!

The day after Christmas, the kids and I, plus G and Meg's BFFs, headed to Tokyo for some shopping and to take in the Constellation exhibit at the Mori Art Museum in Roppongi Hills.

Our first stop was Shakey's Pizza.  My fave of all faves restaurant.  We scoffed back way too much pizza (including some pudding, chocolate sauce and marshmallow pizza! Oishii!) and headed for the KiddieLand toy store.  The permanent store is 6 floors of toy awesomeness, but it's currently being renovated, so they've opened a temp store around the corner.

After less than 24 hours, Gabi's Xmas money was burning a hole in her pocket so we headed for H&M and Forever 21 in Omotesando.  She found quite a bit of stuff, cute and on sale.  Score!  She was quite pleased with herself, only to realize 6 blocks and 2 train stops away that she'd lost her shopping bag.  M, E, BFF and I were already in Roppongi headed to meet up with Gina and her kiddos for the exhibit.  G re-traced her steps but never found her bag :(  She left her name and number with the clerks at both stores, but to date, we haven't heard anything on the MIA loot.

We met up with Gina, James and Alexa and quickly decided that none of the kids (the teens more than the toddlers) were interested in the constellation exhibit, so we decided to head up to Tokyo City View in Mori Tower.  Not a single person, with the exception of me, was impressed with the expansive views of Tokyo sprawled out below us.  How is that even possible?  I NEVER get tired of that view!  I've lost count of the number of times I've taken in that view, and from so many vantage points:  Tokyo Tower, Mori Tower, the Docomo building, the TMG building.....I could literally sit for hours just taking it in.

The boys romped and played for awhile, Alexa slept, we snapped the obligatory pix, Gina and I chatted for not nearly long enough, and then it was time to go.  Gina and co had had a really jammed packed weekend and her kids were exhausted, mine were bored and hungry so we figured it was only a matter of time before we hit the melt-down zone.

The kids and I headed up the block to TGI Fridays for more yummy food, before finally heading home.

It was a nice day, it really helped with the ever-so-anti-climatic day after Christmas.



Meg and BFF



James and Ethan


I will never EVER get tired of this view!!


E studying his newest Lego book at dinner


E dancing to the music in his head, and the girls playing charades on the train.  
(Our stop on this line is the next to the last one, so we're always among the very last ones on the train and usually end up with a car to ourselves, cause nobody wants to be near with gaijin freaks!)