Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Monday, February 13, 2012


I had to get glasses.  I'm getting o.l.d.  I only need them for reading, and only if I want to read for an extended period of time, but the doc said I have to wear them all the time.  I was already wearing fake glasses, they're like jewelry for your face, so aesthetically this isn't a big leap for me, but mentally.......meh. I wasn't happy at first, but I guess I'm getting used to it.

I've also lost a tiny bit of weight.  Down 12 lbs since October.  Not a huge difference physically, but it's done wonders for me emotionally and I really feel motivated to keep going.  Even feeling confident enough to post a pic of myself on FaceBook!  Something I never, ever do, or allow anyone else to do.  And, just so my bloggy friends who aren't my FB friends (and why aren't you??) don't feel left out (although if you're not my FB friend, you wouldn't know you were being left out of anything, right?) here I am, in my new spectacles!  Ta-da!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Beijing Photo Dump!

I can't believe I never blogged about our trip to Beijing!  We went the first weekend in September for 4 days.  It was a whirlwind trip, there is SO MUCH to see and do, we were going non-stop from the minute we landed.  I had a fabulous time and would love to go back again, we didn't see even 1/4 of what I wanted to see.

The kids, however, were less than impressed.  They've become very spoiled travelers and aren't much interested in "adventure".  Beijing is a pretty dirty city, you can't drink the water, the public toilets don't provide toilet paper, and you can't flush TP, you just toss it in a garbage can next to the toilet. Really, really gross. Pretty disgusting for even the hardiest of travelers, absolutely unacceptable for my soft lot.  Poor Meg has a bit of an OCD issue and doesn't deal well with "germs" so she was particularly uncomfortable for most of the trip. The vendors at all the different tourist spots and markets are also very aggressive, getting right in your face shouting about their "special deals" and in some instances physically grabbing you by the arm and dragging you to their stalls.  This really freaked Meg out and on our second trip to the Silk Market, she opted to stay behind at the hotel because she just couldn't handle the hawkers.  With her blonde hair, she really stood out and attracted a lot of attention.  None of it was negative, people were genuinely in awe and we were stopped often and asked to pose for pix, Meg most of all and even Ethan a few times.  The spotlight is not something Megan is at all comfortable with, so again, she was far, far outside of her comfort zone most of the time, but to her credit, she didn't complain at all and really tried to enjoy the trip for the once-in-a-liftime opportunity that it was.  She was friendly to everyone who stopped her and smiled for pix like a pro.  All that aside, it was an awesome trip for me.  I did TONS o' shopping and there's just so, so much to see!

Anyway, here are some of the best pix:

The first of many "Picture please!" moments for Meg

 At our first stop, the Summer Palace

Stopping for break at the Summer Palace

In the palace, heading up to the roof tower

View of Kunming Lake from the top of the palace

Ethan about to board the dragon boat for a ride across Kunming Lake
 Bird's Nest @ Olympic Park

Kid's Republic bookstore

Gabi and Ethan reading a story in the window nook at the bookstore

Our huge, completely awesome, dirt cheap hotel room at the Hilton Wafujing

At AMP mall, waiting for our table at Pizza Hut (over on the left).  It was an actual sit-down Pizza Hut restaurant, haven't been to one of those in YEARS!

Escargot on the Pizza Hut menu, cause what else would you order with your pizza?

One tiny part of the Wafujing Night Market

Snack time!  Scorpions, sea horses, lizards and locust.  A whole new kind of yakitori!

No caption needed.

Tiananmen Tower (entrance to the Forbidden City)

Another "Picture please!"

A testament to Meg's unease.  
They haven't held hands since Meg was 3!
You can see those grandma's in front turning around to look at Meg.  They stopped us and wanted to touch her hair, then they gave the kids some candy.

Tiananmen Square

 Heading up the Great Wall

Some parts were super steep

Ethan and his "I climbed the Great Wall" medal

Probably my favorite pic from the whole trip. Planking on the Great Wall!

After finding out the waterpark we been so excited about for WEEKS was closed, and it was our last day

The Water Cube (home of the waterpark FAIL) @ Olympic Park

After the Great Wall.  Just cute.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Xmas Traditions

Well, only one tradition really.  Every year, when I lived here at Yokota as a little girl, the base would erect giant Christmas cards representing all the different groups/organizations on the base.  The cards were painted on giant 4 x 6 foot pieces of plywood and each group designed and created their own unique card.  I have very vivid memories of driving around looking at these cards every Christmas, choosing which ones were our favorites, ooo-ing and aaah-ing over the really elaborate ones, laughing at the really horrible ones.

Imagine my absolute shock and unbelievable happiness when I discovered, during my first Xmas back in Japan, that the base has continued this tradition for the last 35 years (probably longer, don't know how long it was going on before my memories!).  I was so happy to be able to share this tradition with my own kids!

In the pic above, you can see the cards stretching all the way down the road.  There are usually about 35 cards in total.

To add another layer of joy to the tradition, last year Gabi painted a giant Xmas card as her end-of-the-year project for her art class at school.  We had no idea it was going to be one of THE Xmas cards.  Turns out is was the card to be used in the base display to represent the schools' District Superintendent's Office!

These cards are such a happy part of my childhood Christmas memories, and I'm so glad that now my kids have the same happy memories.