Oct 28, 2009

Four Days in Kyoto

Not as long as Seven Years in Tibet, but adequate to get the job done.

Last week we took a trip down to Kyoto for our first "in Japan" family vacation (probably last--it was exhausting). We left (via Shinkansen aka Bullet Train) Monday morning and came home Thursday night. (Kyoto is the setting for "Memoirs of a Geisha" and the former capital of Japan.)

Turns out our three sons don't care much about the changing seat of power in ancient Japan or the historical significance of Buddhist or Shinto temples and their place in Japanese Religion. But they DO like bullet trains and Samurai swords. So the trip was a win/win for everyone.

Rather than re-cap the WHOLE TRIP, (we packed a lot into 4 days) I'll just mention some highlights and lowlights. And I'll probably spread them out a bit. Cause, for example, right now it's bed time and I should be upstairs helping Doug.
But here's a start:

Visit to The Imperial Palace--where Emperors held court. The structures were often destroyed by fire and then had to be rebuilt. (You'd think at some point they'd have started building with more stone. But no.)

Highlight for the boys: lots of gravel to pile into "pyramids". Seriously. We took a tour this day and visited three different places. They're favorite part of the day was the gravel.
*Note: The color Vermillion scares away evil spirits and is also thought of as a HAPPY color. The white gravel in the inner courtyard represents purity.

*Note: "The Oikeniwa Garden is a strolling garden, the main feature of which is a large pond with an artificial shoreline..."

Lowlight: Boy's playing in gravel all day makes for three REALLY FILTHY boys!

Note to self: Gravel and Crocs are not a good combination.

Each night ended in all three boys in the Hotel Tub soaking their nasty black feet.
To be continued...

Oct 27, 2009

Gabe's First Party

Gabe was invited to his first "friend party" ever. Madeline's party was held at the Weasels' Den

Before the party:
(He gave her a vintage Effanbee "Butterball" doll.)
(Madeline is one of his BFF's and he mimics her speech and mannerisms quite a bit. And her foot stomp.)
After the party:A good time was (obviously) had by all!

Oct 16, 2009

The Best Lunch EH-VER!!

Doug got home from his TDY* to San Francisco a few days ago. What? You didn't know he was gone? That's because I didn't tell you, CREEPY STALKER!!! (Have I mentioned lately that I live in a gated community protected by armed guards? I do. Plus, I keep a 50 lb. MagLite about my person.)

Anyway, he was gone for over a week. Went to a conference, learned some stuff, saw his wonderful parents, brother Mark & Co., went to eat with some fabulous old friends, and basically had a grand ol' time. (Plus, he did all of the shopping and fetching I required of him.)
AND, he ate out a lot. Jerk. (Doug's family; I use that affectionately.)

--Extensive and over-long digression:--
Now, since I've been pregnant, we (or just I) have been eating out a lot more. In fact, we (okay, I!) over spent our eating-out budget last month by, like, a LOT. Because when you're pregnant, and puking, and all of the sudden something sounds good--not just good--LIFE SAVING, well, you get it and eat it immediately.

For example: One day I went in to Arts and Crafts on a Saturday afternoon. I was hand painting some pots. My co-worker offered to get me lunch at the base Popeyes and I, being nauseated, but hungry, agreed.

Do you know what Popeyes is? It's a southern place like unto KFC. They do a lot of deep frying there. As in, everything on the menu is soaked in oil before being cooked and they don't even pretend any of it has nutritional value. This was my first experience actually eating food from there. She (co-worker) got me a meal. Three chicken strips, french fries, a biscuit, (bleh to biscuits) and large a root beer.

Let me tell you how often I order a fast food meal like this: Never.

But that day, it saved my life. Those french fries (which were greasy enough to have been triple fried) were the best artery-clogging goodness I've ever eaten. I thought about that meal all weekend long and went back Monday morning at 9:30 a.m. for seconds. A pregnant woman's gotta do what she's gotta do.

Since then, there have been more desperate cravings for Taco Bell Nacho's Bell Grande, (another new one for me--I'm usually a '7 layer, no tomato' girl.) Shrimp & Veggie Tempura, more Nacho's Bell Grande, Salmon, Steak, Hamburgers with fry sauce, a Chocolate/Banana shake, fruity carbonated beverages, and peanut butter apples.

All of these things, when I got them in my hot little hands, were the best things I'd ever eaten.

Until Thursday morning when Doug got home.

--Now back to the point:--
And he gave me this:
Fresh Bodine Sour Dough Bread and Clam Chowder!!!
(I devoured it immediately!)

(at least until I start craving nachos again.)

Welcome home Sugar Lips!!! And thanks again for LUNCH!!!

*Temporary DutY: (Most of the acronyms around here make no sense.)

Oct 7, 2009

Misawa is in TCCOR 3!

I don't actually know what TCCOR 3 means. But I DO know there is a tropical storm headed our way and we're in for some rain and high winds.

This is what the flyer left on my door said:

*Residents will secure all outside equipment and properly secure/store it.

*Trampoline owners will remove safety net & turn trampoline upside down.

The last big wind storm we had relocated our trampoline to someone else's backyard. Guess they're trying to prevent that from happening again!

Should be fun to watch!

Oct 1, 2009

Fitting in and Cleaning House in Japan

I have this problem. (One of many.) I'm house-keeping challenged. I blame my ADD. See, every time I try to clean a room, I get side-tracked by some small insignificant detail in the room. For example: I might go to put something away and notice the drawer where it belongs is a mess. So I start cleaning out and organizing the drawer. Then realize that to properly organize said drawer I need a drawer organizer. Which means a trip to the 100 Yen store. Which may take a few days to get to. And wherein (when I eventually make it) I will be sidetracked by all the cool stuff, buy supplies for an art project I'll never complete, and forget the drawer organizer.

So you see, my home is never very tidy. (But I'll be darned if my drawers and cupboards don't look AWESOME!)

I thought it was pretty bad!
Then I got pregnant.
Got morning sickness.
Got tired.
Got pukey.
Took lots of naps.
Got a nasty cold.
Got over the cold.
Got the flu.
Didn't shower or get out of bed for two days.
etc. etc.
(ad nauseam, if you will)

And weeks ago I gave up even trying. The kitchen makes me sick. The bathrooms make me sick. Thinking about cleaning anything makes me sick. So I've stopped all that nonsense.

And it turns out I must have been accomplishing something before, because things around here have actually gotten a lot worse.

Doug helps all he can (with only a slightly disgruntled air) but he's only home for so many hours. And he's already doing all the cooking.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.
I called in the heavy artillery.
I hired a Mamasan.
What is a Mamasan? A Mamasan is a magical being.
A Mamasan is a Japanese lady--usually an old lady--who will come to your house and work wonders.
She is (usually) hired to babysit or clean.
She (usually) rides to your house on her bike.
The standard fee is (usually) 5,000 yen/day. (Roughly $60.)
And she (usually) wants lunch. Or in some cases, coffee or a Coke.

My Mamasan (whose name I wrote down but now can't find the paper) came at 8:30 a.m. last Monday and left around 14:45. (2:45 p.m.) I got her a Subway sandwich. (Like I said--I don't go in the kitchen these days.) She brought her own Instant Coffee.

While she was here she cleaned the kitchen, the bathrooms, straightened the bedrooms (made the beds) and vacuumed all the carpet.

While she was here, I left and did my Visiting Teaching!

Talk about a win/win.

She's coming again next week and I can hardly wait.

I know it wont last long. Doug is too cheap and my nausea is easing somewhat. But I'm going to enjoy it while I can.

And on a totally unrelated note:
Isn't this a cute family tree Max and I made? It includes three boys, two parents, and six grandparents.
That makes three whole things I've accomplished in the last 3 months. Hire Mamasan to clean: check! Visiting Teaching: check! Help with school project: check!
Good to know I can still pull my own weight around here!!!

(Oh yeah! And Write Blog Post: CHECK! I'm totally awesome!!!)