Dec 30, 2010

Christmas Letter 2010

Family Photos With Five Boys
 A True Story by Emily W.
December 2010

“BOYS!  GET IN THE CAR…WE’RE GOING TO BE LATE TO MEET THE OTHER FAMILIES FOR PICTURES!!! 

Max, can you get shoes on Gabe?  No, not his flip flops.  Put his little boots on him.  Gabey, GABEY!  JUST LET MAX HELP YOU!  Hold still and put your feet in!  Now go get in the car, boys! 

Doug where’s Sam?  SAM!  PUT YOUR PANTS ON AND GET IN THE CAR!  Wait, first see if you can get Gray-Gray to laugh while I put him in his car seat.
Doug, do you have the camera?  Is it charged??  Are you sure???

Yes, I have the brush. No, Gray isn’t wearing that.  I have to put his shirt on at the last minute so it’s not soaked with slobber for the picture.  Yes, I have a different shirt for all the boys.

EVERYONE IN THE CAR RIGHT NOW! 

We’re going up to the Gorge, Max.  No, you can’t bring the DS.  We’ll only be in the car for an hour, Sammy!  You can bring a book, though.  No!  No DVD player!  It’s a one hour drive!”

(Ninety minutes and one emergency pit stop later, we arrive at Oirase Gorge.)

“Doug, where’s the clean shirt I had out for Sam?  No, I took it from him so he wouldn’t smush it and gave it to you.  You were supposed to take that pile!  Oh well!  He’ll have to wear the one with the hole in it!  We can Photoshop it later.

Hey everybody, Can the W’s go first ‘cause our kids are probably going to fall in the river or a mud puddle in a minute...!? Thank you!!
Okay boys remember what Daddy said!
You’re going to be in big trouble if you don’t smile! 

No, don’t look at me, look at the camera!  Someone get Gray to look!  NO, at the CAMERA! 

Sam, come back!  You have to be in the picture or no Wii for a week!  Gabey, calm down, Daddy’s not going to let you fall over the railing!  Max, I want a REAL smile!  Think of something silly like the time you knocked Mommy off the bed!  Yeah, Now smile like THAT! 

I did brush his hair but he messed it up again!  Can someone get Gray to look?  Anyone have a tissue?  Can you wipe his face off?  Max, that is a fake smile!  Smile normal!  Sam, quit looking at Gray and look at the camera!

Put your hands down!

Face forward!

Stop touching him!

Don’t kick!

Look at the camera!

(Doug, is my hair weird? Is there lipstick on my teeth?)

Okay boys, just a few more!  Now, one…two…three…

HAPPY SMILE!!!!

--The End--

Heres wishing you a calm and peaceful Christmas and relaxing New Year!
Hope you appreciate the picture!!!

Love, The Dub Family
Douglas, Emily, Maxwell (9), Samuel (6),
Gabriel (3), and introducing, Grayson Brandon (8mns)


Dec 26, 2010

A True Christmas Miracle - Guest Post by Janeen

Alright, Em wanted me to write a guest entry for her blog about how our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day went down.  I’m sure there are people out there like us who, in desperation, have threatened that Santa would not make a visit if the wee ones did not shape up.  And then the children were still naughty and the parents were left wondering, “So… what next?...”

-----
I don’t need to go into detail about why our Christmas Eve was not so Merry and Bright – something about four little kids grumbling over dinner and/or fighting/complaining/whining about doing chores, having to be asked multiple times to do something (or not do something)…etc.  I wasn’t feeling jolly and neither was my husband.  I didn’t feel like I could deal with their orneriness much longer so instead of doing all of our normal family traditions for the night (acting out the pageant, the family talent show, reading Night Before Christmas, and a service project) we just read the book and put them to bed.

Then we hatched our plan… we were going to call Santa and tell him to turn around and then we’d also return all of the other gifts!  No--I’m kidding, the thought crossed our minds, but we thought that was a little harsh for our kids (ages 8, 6, 3 & 1 ½)!  
Instead, we got in touch with one of Santa’s Elves and he radioed Santa Claus with the news – Christmas would be a little bit different this year.

When Santa arrived, he arranged a few stuffed animals into a manger scene around the Baby Jesus who he lovingly placed in a basket right next to our Christmas tree. He placed all of the presents in the laundry room, and closed the door. Then he typed up a letter for the kids and left it by his empty plate.  

This is what the letter said:

Dear T, L, I & E,
MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!  I am guessing that you are probably a little surprised that there are no presents under the Christmas tree.  Before you get too disappointed, I want you to read this letter.  I want you to know that I know you are very good boys and girls and that you did very well this year. BUT, there have been a few times this year that my elves and I have looked at each other and said, “Oh no!  We don’t want to put them on the ‘Naughty List’ but they sure aren’t doing what they should be doing!”  Last night was one of those nights.  That is why I decided to do something a little different this year.  I did bring you gifts, but before I tell you where they are I want to talk to you about the true meaning of CHRISTMAS. 
CHRISTMAS is all about celebrating the birth and life of JESUS CHRIST and everything He did for us.  Christmas is NOT about me!  I am just a symbol of giving and the joy that people have when they receive and when they give a wonderful gift.  JESUS CHRIST gave us some of the greatest gifts of all.
Do you remember from your Spanish class what “MAS” means?  It means “MORE”.  So at CHRISTMAS we should think of CHRIST MORE and tryMORE to do what CHRIST would do.  He taught us to do many things like obeying your parents, helping others, and being peacemakers.  These are things that I want you to work on this next year. 
So right now your parents are going to read to you the real CHRISTMAS story.  When the story is over I want you to look under the baby JESUS for a clue to help you find your Christmas presents.
Have a very Merry CHRISTMAS!!!!
Love,
Santa

P.S.  Thank you for the goodies you left.  That is one handsome guy on the plate you used!

(The CLUE page was folded and placed under the baby Jesus.  This is what it said):
The clue to the location of your presents is:
One of the greatest gifts that Jesus has given us is that He made it possible for us to be WASHED CLEAN of all our sins.


On Christmas morning, the oldest two came running into the living room and said with very sad looks on their faces, “Oh no! … He didn’t come!”  My husband talked with them for a minute, all of them bummed together that there weren’t any gifts, and then he lead them over to where the empty plate was on the table to find the note. 

They read the note and got really excited.  They came to get me and our 3 year old up (it was still 5 in the morning so we weren’t going to get the little one up just yet) and we read through Luke 2 together as a family.  We talked about it for a minute and then found the rest of the gifts with the help of the clue.  

The kids were talking about it for the rest of the day and when they explained it to all of the well-wishers who called they were quick to point out it was because they weren’t making good choices.  

I’d rather there were no gifts and just stories of Christ’s birth and life, than Santa and presents and no mention of Christ’s name, but I think there is room enough for all as long as there is more focus on why we celebrate in the first place. 

Most of the time, as a parent, I’m wondering what the heck I’m doing – I should have achieved Expert Parenting status since I have four kids, right? Yet it seems like the more kids I have, the less adequate I feel. We have talked about why we celebrate Christmas all along, but it seemed to be falling on deaf ears.  Happily, on this rare occasion our message was well received and peace reigned for the afternoon at least.   





That night, my oldest child thanked Heavenly Father in his prayers for teaching him the true meaning of Christmas.  (I guess Santa got through in a way we couldn't.). 

And so our "Santa Experiment" was successful and this year the spirit of Christ was able to join us for Christmas!!!
-----


***Editor's Note:  Janeen wrote this.  I edited it a tiny bit.  Can't help myself.***
***Thanks Janeen!  You guys are obviously extremely awesome, wonderful parents.  RIGHT READERS???***

Dec 22, 2010

A Few Little December Things...

  • Max is a master manipulator.  If he wants to get Sam in trouble, he quietly pokes him or whispers "Baby!" and Sam starts wailing and gnashing his teeth and gets in trouble.  If he wants to get something from his parents, he pulls out his "puppy dog eyes" and flutters his eyelashes at us--or he tries to glare us into submission.  (Neither tactic is effective.)  Good thing he's a pretty good boy over all. Our neighbor told me the other day that he's always very polite around them and always says "Yes, ma'am" to her and helps her son with his chores.)
  • Sam has lost both of his top two front teeth (and one on bottom) and he really does sorta lisp when saying "Cwith-math"  It's pretty darn cute.  (Max helped expedite the expulsion of one loose tooth by punching Sammy in the face.  After that Mommy tied floss around it and it fell right out.)
  • In other Sam news; Sam said today, "Soooo, when we're teenagers, you guys are going to be pretty old and then who's going to take care of the baby?"
  • Gabe's favorite new word is "peacock".  Someone (three-year-old buddy Isaac perhaps?) told him that "peacock" is a si-yee (silly) word so now he shouts it--at random--multiple times a day.  He uses it as an insult and as a compliment and he shouts it in greeting and as a farewell salutation.  I.e.  "GOODBYE PEACOCK!!!"  "YOU SI-YEE PEACOCK!" or simply "PEEEEEEECOOOOOCK!"
  • In the latest gross and disgusting news, I recently had a little work done...on both of my big toes.  The sides of my toe nails were cut off and then (gently!) ripped out.  Then the assaulted area was dabbed with some sort of potion (poison?) to make the nail never grow back.  Needless to say, I waddled a little for a day or two and my most frequent refrain these days is "Don't step on my toes!" or "Stay away from my toes!" and all too frequently  "GET OFF MY FREAKING TOES!!!"   Before the procedure, I had to promise the doctor I wouldn't blame him on my blog if I hated the results.  So I'd just like to say for the record, my toes look ADORABLE and I highly recommend the pedicure services of Dr. F!  (Seriously though...I'm just looking forward to never getting in-grown toe nails again.  Cute toes be danged!)
Since I've mentioned most of the fam, may as well round things off:
  • Doug:  Still job hunting.  Possibly going back to the states for a quick job-search-related trip in March.  Also, the little red dots on his arms?  Not mosquito bites.  Psoriasis.  It runs in the family.  My mom has it too.  (I kill me.)
  • Gray:  Adorable as ever and still super smiley.  He has four teeth now (ouch) and inchworms or scoots wherever he needs to go.  I've tried to tell him crawling is more efficient, but he's content with the way things are.  Everyone loves him and he loves everyone.
And that's about it for us.

Happy Birthday today Faezer!
Merry Christmas everyone else!!!

Dec 19, 2010

A Bright Shining Star - President Thomas S. Monson


While you're praying for peace this Christmas season, please pray that things in Korea will calm down. Especially that those preparing to deploy will be with their families for Christmas!



"There is no better time than now, this very Christmas season, for all of us to rededicate ourselves to the principles taught by Jesus the Christ. Let it be a time that lights the eyes of children and puts laughter on their lips. Let it be a time for lifting the lives of those who live in loneliness. Let it be a time for calling our families together, for feeling a closeness to those who are near to us and a closeness also to those who are absent.
Let it be a time of prayers for peace, for the preservation of free principles, and for the protection of those who are far from us. Let it be a time of forgetting self and finding time for others. Let it be a time for discarding the meaningless and for stressing the true values. Let it be a time of peace because we have found peace in His teachings.
Most of all, let it be a time to remember the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, that we may share in the song of the angels, the gladness of the shepherds, and the worship of the Wise Men.
My brothers and sisters, may the spirit of love which comes at Christmastime fill our homes and our lives and linger there long after the tree is down and the lights are put away for another year. This is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, the Lord, amen."

Christmas Message - "Seeing Christmas Through New Eyes" Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Want to get in the Christmas spirit?  Grab your kids and watch this movie!

Then buy the old "original" version of "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" and watch that too!






"We know what the Christmas season ought to be—we know it should be a time of reflection on the birth of the Savior, a time of celebration and of generosity. But sometimes our focus is so much on the things that annoy and overwhelm us that we can almost hear ourselves say in unison with the Grinch: “Why, for fifty-three years I’ve put up with it now! I MUST stop this Christmas from coming! . . . But HOW?” "

Dec 17, 2010

NARNIA on i-Tunes for $9.95!!!

Quick!  Go to i-Tunes and buy the Audio Book of the Month!  They have the complete "Narnia" series--all seven books--for only $9.95!!!  This is a smokin' deal!  Think of the hours (over 75) of road trip entertainment!  Plus, it features the voice of Jean Luc Picard!  What more could you ask for???
As Doug told his family in an e-mail, "This announcement is my Christmas gift to you all! It's like I just gave you each $60."!  You're welcome!
Merry Christmas!!!
(<----Do NOT buy it from Amazon.  Sorry Amazon.)


P.S.  While you're there, get the Single of the Week--a new song by Duran Duran!!!

Dec 13, 2010

How The Pediatric Dentist Pulls Out Teeth

Services are offered for free on a first come/first served basis!

Dec 11, 2010

Sunday Thought

"The world will teach our children if we do not, and children are capable of learning all the world will teach them at a very young age.  What we want them to know five years from now needs to be part of our conversation with them today.  Teach them in every circumstance; let every dilemma, every consequence, every trial that they may face provide an opportunity to teach them how to hold on to gospel truths."

Rosemary M. Wixom
Primary General President
October Conference, 2010

Commence Immediate Compliance!

I told my friend Liz I was going to copy her blog post and here it is:

Dear Friends and Family,
Are you on the fence about sending a Christmas card this year?  Not sure whether or not to include a picture?  Does THIS

do anything to change your mind???

THAT, my friends, is our picture wall of fame.  (And it's quite sparse compared to years past!) Pretty much any picture you send me in the mail (and some you gift my husband...eh hem large 8x10 of Wes) goes up on the wall and stays

ALL

YEAR

LONG!

Heck, I might leave 'em up until we move!

(Cards get put up on another wall, but I take them down after Christmas.)

[By-the-way, I'd like to point out that there is only one, ONE sibling picture in this group.  Out of Doug's five siblings, and my four, only JENNY sent a card.  Ashamed of yourselves yet siblings?  YOU SHOULD BE!]

So, hopefully this nudges you into the card+letter+picture=happiness camp.

Let the holiday mailing commence!!!

***Note:  We just got our cards from SnapFish.  Now I just have to think of something witty to write for the letter and we'll get them in the mail.***

Dec 8, 2010

Max is NINE! Part 2

We really know how to celebrate birthday's around here!

Pre-Party:
Saturday, D-Fresh took the boys to the Weasels Den 
Then; Max got to open a present one day early.  
Super Dad found it at the base "Great American Garage Sale".  
Hooray for $7 Wii games!!!

When Gabe and Gray were down for naps, D took the big boys to the Misawa City Pool to swim.  It's a little ways away, but it has a water slide so it's always a big hit.

Sunday after church it was time for his Family Party. (We do friend parties on even-numbered birthdays.)  He requested Wizard Won Ton Soup, fruit salad, and a Harry Potter Castle Cake. Dad made the soup, I made the cake.  I used the book "What's New Cupcake" (Thanks Claudia) for the cake idea, but unfortunately didn't have all the correct componants.  (No oblong chocolate wafer cookies to be found on base--hence the white door and shutters.)  I wasn't thrilled with it...could have used a few more hours and a few fewer distractions, but of course, Max never seems to mind.  He loved it.  (A few have been pretty scary--like the possessed "Thomas" I made when he was two.)
The chocolate trees started re-melting the minute they came out of the fridge so they fell over shortly after this picture was taken.
The H fam are our family here.  We love 'em.  They brought a "Gross Science" kit for Max.  They're clearly awesome.

And the extra present promised at church?
A Toy Story tin filled with popcorn.
All the kids were so excited to see it come out of the gift bag!
"OH!  TOY STORY!  Maybe it's ARMY MEN!
Maybe it's BUZZ and WOODY!
Me:  "No no!  It's not a toy!  It's just a cool TIN!!!  Ya know, to keep stuff in!?!"
(Note to self:  Kid's aren't impressed with cool tins filled with plain popcorn.  I think I've got it.)

All in all, I'd say he had a fun birthday.


Max, what's your favorite?

(Mom asked:) What is your favorite cartoon character?  Jerry (From Tom and Jerry)

(Sam) ...game?  Phase 10

(Michiel) ...Lego set?  Harry Potter (which he didn't have, but got the next day.)

(Dad) ...book?  Harry Potter series

(Gabey)  ...color?  Red.  No blue.  Really dark blue.

(Gray)  ...fruit?  Cantaloupe

Dinner?  ...crepes

Dec 7, 2010

Max is NINE

And Sunday was testimony meeting.

Me:  "Max, why don't you bare your testimony!"
Max:  "No, I just want to sleep."
Me:  "Come on!
Max:  "No."
Me:  "Say that you finished the Book of Mormon!"
Max:  "I don't even have any shoes!"
(Yes, he somehow managed to leave the house without shoes and walked around in his socks for all three hours of church.  That's how we roll around here.)
Me:  "No one is going to notice.  They can't even see your feet when you're up there.  And...I'll give you an extra birthday present!"
(That's right.  I'm not above bribery to make my children participate in church!)
Me:  "I can go up with you...?"
Max:  "Fine. [pause]  I'll go alone."
---

Max standing--in his socks--at the pulpit in front of the entire congregation:

"I'd like to bare my testimony.  I know the church is true.  I know the Book of Mormon is true because I read it.  InthenameofJesusChrist, Amen!"

---

That's my boy!

Nov 30, 2010

And the Winner is...

You!  Because I'm not going to be blogging everyday anymore!

No, but really.  The winner of the "Become-a-Follower-Win-a-Prize" contest is:
 *drumroll please*

rusrhi23


Congratulations!  Send me your address (I promise not to stalk you) and I'll send you a goodie box from Japan!  (My random number generator this time was Doug who was instructed to pick a number between 1-63.)
:)
:)
:)

As for the rest of you, thank you for sticking with me through this painfully long month!  Believe it or not, I'm not even out of things to say!
(But I think I'll take tomorrow off anyway!)


Adios November!

Nov 29, 2010

Too Tired Tuesday...er, Monday

See you tomorrow!!!

Nov 27, 2010

Kokeshi and Thai Nativities. Oh, and Fisher Price.

Doug brought home a box from the Post Office yesterday and by about 8 pm I was feeling good enough to be excited about opening it.  It was our much anticipated, saved-up-for, Japanese Kokeshi Nativity.  "Kokeshi dolls are handcrafted wooden folk art dolls made by Kokeshi artists in Japan".
(They're also very lovely.)  


Since we collect nativities, we've been on the look-out for one the whole time we've been here.  Unfortunately, they are few and far between.  (Not surprising in this non-Christian country.)

We finally found this one at KokeshiDesigns.com and although it sorta felt like cheating to buy it on-line, I'm glad we did.  
It's beautiful and I love it.


And since we were breaking out the nativities, we decided to break open the extensive packaging around  our Thai Nativity for the first time.  Since we just got it in February, this is the first time we've gotten it out.  It's even more awesome than I remember and I'm SO GLAD we went on a half-day adventure to find it in Thailand!

It looks really pretty on top of last years Christmas present:  
My awesome-deal-refurbished-by-Abe-San piano.

(BTW, This painting "Christ at Thirty-Three" by Heinrich Hoffman is the very one that hung in my home, above our piano, for my whole childhood.  It's always been my favorite image of Christ.)
 The details and craftsmanship of these handmade dolls is/are amazing.  I could stare at it for hours.
(Well, if I didn't have ADD I could.)
 (If you want to order one, the information is at the end of this post.)

And finally, we have the Nativity the kids are allowed to play with.  I've had the basic Little People Nativity set for a few years now.  But when my friend Tami introduced me to the expansion set, I had to have it.

Doug came home from work one day about eight months ago and I had to tell him I spent over $100 on Fisher-Price.com.  On Little People.

He wasn't thrilled.  

(Did I mention I got the Little People Mayflower and the First Thanksgiving set too???)

Some women buy shoes and purses.  I buy Little People.  What of it?


But can't you just sense the joy radiating from the back of their little heads?

 I love Nativities, I love my boys, 
and I LOVE CHRISTMAS!!!

How It All Went Down...or Came Up

>>Insert picture of large frowny face here<<

9:55 p.m. - H's leave
10 p.m.  Max throws up.  We put him to bed upstairs on the bottom bunk so he doesn't have to leap from his bed if he needs to up-chuck again.

I wrote my blog post and then Doug and I went to bed about 11ish and watched our new favorite show "Modern Family" in bed on the lap top.
12:00 - Lights out.

12:20 a.m. Max runs to the bathroom and throws up again.
While we're up, I decide to puke too.  Just for fun.

I throw up again while we're up and then go downstairs to find the hidden Coke on the top shelf in the very back of the pantry.  Growing up, the only time we were allowed Coke was when we were yaking.  Did you know Coke Syrup is used to settle stomachs?  It is!  I gave some to Max and I and we all go back to bed again.  (Max says, "What's 'Coke'?  I don't like the sound...I don't like the sound....." He was too delirious to form a complete sentence.)

Everyone goes back to bed.  A few minutes later, Max is up heaving again.
Soon, Doug hears something downstairs and goes down to find Gabe passed out in a pile of yuck.  (He did get some in his bowl, though...!)

A few minutes go by (or hours?  or years?) and Sam decides to join the fun.  Doug goes down to find ick all over the bathroom and is thankful Sam made it to a hard floor.  But then discovers Sam started by the tree, marked his territory there, and then moved to the bathroom.

I camp on the floor by my bathroom and moan piteously.  (Dear Military Housing,  Get some freaking pad under the carpet!  It was like laying on bare concrete!)

At some point, Doug moves all the boys to the upstairs hallway outside the bathroom and just stops getting back in bed.
 
Max pukes about 30 times and starts yelling "I'M GOING TO DIE!!!" in-between each visit to the toilet.  Later, I hear Gabey yelling the same thing:  "I'M GOING TO DIE!!!"  (It was such an awesomely fun night.)

At some point I stop even trying to help and mostly just stay in my room moaning.  I do vaguely remember seeing Doug sitting up in the hall around 4 am looking at Black Friday sales on the lap top with three passed out boys close at hand.

Somehow, Gray and Doug are spared from the intestinal trauma.  (Although I wouldn't call what Doug went through last night being "spared" from anything.)

Today the boys have been locked in the house all day.  Doug says they've been playing the Wii until the controllers lose battery power, then they watch T.V. for awhile until they can play Wii again.  (It's probably been the best day of their collective lives.)

Doug has cleaned our carpet with a borrowed carpet cleaner and done approximately 87 loads of laundry.

I, personally opted for a different route to recovery.  I slept until 4.
Yes, 4 p.m. this evening.
Yes, I got up two hours ago.
Of course I've been nursing Gray whenever Doug brings him to me, but other then that, I've slept all day.

Sleeping is one of my special talents and I can sleep any of you under the table any day of the week.  (Not to brag or anything...I'm just really that good.)

And now that I've taken a shower, had an apple and some 7up, and written this blog post, I think I'll go back to bed!

Dear Doug;
You win "Husband and Father of the Year".
Love,
Your sleepy wife Emily

Dear Everyone Else,
I wouldn't wish last night on my worst enemies and I definitely hope all of our friends are spared!!!  If you're not, please blame the P's.  They started it.
Good luck and Goodnight!
Love,
Your favorite blogger Emily in Japan

Nov 26, 2010

Woah.

I almost forgot to blog today!  We've been busy getting ready for Christmas (Doug put lights up outside while I did the tree with the boys) and partying it up (movies for the kids, "Settlers" for grown-ups) with the H family.
Our new tradition, started by Sam last year, is to sleep under the tree the first night it's set up.

Max couldn't join these two because he just threw up.  (Hence the precautionary bowl in-between the two boys.  I took it out for the second picture.)

Dear P Family Who've Recently Had Sick Kids;  You're dead to me!

At least Max waited for the H's to leave before saying "I feel Ho-ibble" and running to the bathroom!

Dear H Family;  I'm SO SORRY in advance for what is about to befall your family.

Dear Me;  Go to bed.  All of your kids are going to be up puking soon.

Dear Everyone; Sorry for this post!

Good night!!!

Nov 25, 2010

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

I am thankful for the five men in my life...





 (Max is trying to break into a bottle of Martinelli's Sparkling Cider)

 and I'm thankful for PIE!!!

Happy Thanksgiving!
P.S.  Don't forget to become a "Follower" to be entered to win a prize!

Nov 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving Eve!

Baking Pies Today!
No time to blog!!!
(But technically this counts as a post so I'm still at 100% for November!)

Oh, in case you're curious so far I've made a White Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake with a Pecan Gingersnap Crust, and I've started two Peanut Butter Pies!

See you tomorrow!

Nov 23, 2010

Yep, I'm an Eco Scout

The other day after the Med Group Thanksgiving Lunch, I felt compelled to dig through the trash pulling out bottles and cans so they could be recycled.  Once I'd started a separate garbage bag just for recyclables and left it out in an obvious place, I felt okay leaving.  I did the same thing at the Sports Day potluck.  (I mean SERIOUSLY people, if you're providing 10,000 drinks in bottles and cans, PUT OUT A RECYCLING BIN FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!)

Anyway, it reminded me that my mom and I did a similar thing when I was a kid.  I noticed that a lot of cans were always in the garbage at the Beauty School (where I got my super awesome perms in middle school) and it really bothered me.  So my mom bought a blue recycling can with the arrows on it, we dropped it off at the school,  and every week or so she'd take me over to collect the cans and we'd recycle them.

I also joined Butler Middle School's chapter of "Eco Scouts" around the same time.  I told Doug all this.  "Did you know you married an 'Eco Scout'?" I asked with pride.
"Um, no.  And it's a good thing or I may not have married you."

Such a snob.  He's lucky I married a nerdy Country Club TENNIS player.

---

This reminds me of another quote from my idealistic youth.  My dad was standing in front of the open fridge "grazing" as my mom called it.  I walked up and said "Shut the door!  You're letting out all the C.F.C.'s!"  (I learned about 'em in Eco Scouts.)
He said "You don't even know what 'C.F.C'. means!"
Me:  "Chlorofluorocarbons."
Him:  stunned silence.

I've been savoring the look of complete dismay ever since.

---

Any of you Eco Scouts?
(Or geeky tennis players?)

Nov 21, 2010

A Delicious Surprise and A GIVEAWAY

See, this is why it always pays to enter Giveaways.  Even if they're on the blogs of people you don't know.  Even if you don't think you have a snowball's chance.  Because sometimes, even if you DON'T win, you might just get a PRIZE anyway!

A few weeks ago I was reading Noelle's blog: "Because Nice Matters" and she was talking about the new Stephen's Caramel Apple Cider.  She liked it so much she decided to do a random giveaway.  And I didn't win.  BUT, being the kind and generous soul that she is, she took pity on me in my Stephen's-less state and awarded me a PITY PRIZE!  And I just got the goods in the mail!  (TWO cans of Stephen's and some M&M's!!!  Noelle, we're clearly kindred spirits!)  (I was forced to purchase the Reddi-Wip and Smuckers JUST for the cider.  FORCED!)

Dear Noelle,
You really ARE nice.  I thank you, my husband thanks you, and my children thank you.  You're getting a treat from Japan.  (Sometime in the next nine months.  I'm not quite as efficient about getting to the post office.)
You rock!  Thank you again from the bottom of my freezing little toes!


Sincerely,


Happily Sipping Cider in Japan  


And since I'm already going to the post office, and it IS ThanksGIVING week, why don't I do a giveaway too!  All you have to do to enter is become a "follower" of this blog.  (If you're already following, you're already entered!  Good work!)  I'll select someone at random and send you a treat from Japan!  Hooray!  The prize will be awarded...in a few days.  So ENTER NOW!!!


P.S.  Am I the only one who grew up saying "carmel"?  I always feel so pretentious saying "caramel"!

A Taste of Thailand - We Miss You!

A whole month of blogging is a lot for a person.  I'm getting incredibly sick of the sound of my own thoughts, so I can only imagine it's much worse for you people!  Therefore, I'd like to welcome a guest blogger today: my husband, personal chef, and travel coordinator Douglas.  
I'll turn the time over to you now, Sweet Cheeks!
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Today we had the wonderful wife of one of our deployed branch members over after church.  Gina is Thai and a great cook. I asked and she graciously offered to teach us some Thai cooking.  When she arrived she had a basket of ingredients to make my favorite Thai dish: Tom Yum Goong. This is a fabulous soup.
(I was always too nervous to order anything other than Pad Thai and Curry at Thai restaurants until Thailand when our interpreters ordered for us. Now this is my fave, so go try it.)

This has a couple of lime leaves, a ginger like root called Galangal, some lemon grass, a Japanese sized garlic clove (about twice the size of U.S garlic cloves), and some onion.
 Skinny Japanese mushrooms: these are sold in big bunches. Nice since you don't have to slice them up.
 Goong or shrimp.
This is the tricky part.  You need these two sauces and I'm not sure where to find them, though in the US it can't be that hard. This first one is Chili Paste. Gina bought it from Phada Thai here in Misawa.
 This is a shrimp paste she bought here at Sanwado, the Japanese equivalent to Walmart.
 Cilantro and green onions.
 You read the label, I'm getting tired. (Okay, for you Kris: Fish sauce)
 Yep, chicken broth.
She took about 1 cup of broth and added the first group, lemon grass, ginger stuff, etc. and brought to a boil. Then she added about a heaping Tablespoon of both pastes in and stirred until the onions were cooked. (I tried to hand her an actual Tablespoon but she declined for a regular spoon of course). About 2-3 minutes after adding the pastes, we added the mushrooms and the onions/cilantro and shrimp and a splash of fish sauce. That cooked about 1-2 minutes.
 Now eat!!! Boy it was soo good. There are so many flavors that hit you. It was just like I had in Kanchanaburi. It had the perfect spice level for me, but was a bit (lot) too spicy for Em. 

 And she did it all one-handed while holding this cute little flea.
It was easy to make too, if you can find all that stuff.  Thanks for the lesson Gina!

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It's been about 10 months since we visited Thailand. I miss it. Plus, to heighten my Thai awareness, it seems half the branch is/are going there for Christmas vacation. (And another family just got back.) I was just on the phone with my friend/supervisor/district presidency member/orthodontist telling him how to get the "Bangkok Dolls." (I got a lot of weird looks from people on my trip as I tried to find said place. But rest assured, it is a wholesome doll company where we bought our Thai Nativity.)

The cooking lesson and phone conversation brought back lots of fun memories.  If you ever get the chance to visit Thailand, I highly recommend it!

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Thank you Douggie!!!
If you're interested, you can read my Thailand trip report starting here, and Doug's (with lot's of excellent pictures) starting here!