Jun 28, 2010

BEST.SURPRISE.EVER!!! (Get a tissue.)

Here's how it went down:

Merrill called us on Monday night.

"I'm coming home early.  I'm going to fly in Saturday morning.  I want you to help me surprise Janeen."

Us:  "Done."

We immediately planned a "Farewell Brunch" for the soon-departing families.  We told everyone to be at our house Saturday morning at 9:30.

The families on their way out wondered why no one bothered to find out if they'd be at their own farewell party.  (We could have put a little more thought into it...)

It was a looooong week.

On Thursday, Janeen got suspicious.
I, of course, was the model of calm, cool, collectedness.
Doug...not so much!

Have I ever mentioned that Doug doesn't lie?  He doesn't.  I can't think of one lie he's told in almost 10 years of marriage.  He doesn't exaggerate.  He doesn't stretch the truth.  If you don't want to know what he got you for Christmas, DON'T ASK!  (I don't.)
And if I don't want to know that I look fat in these jeans, once again...

So when Janeen cornered him, looked him right in the eyes, and said
"Doug!  Do you know something?!?!?"  
It took all he had to look back at her innocently and mutter "nuh uh!"
Bullet dodged.
Suspicion averted.

(I hope Merrill appreciates that we're both going to hell for him.)

Saturday morning FINALLY comes.  Doug goes to the airport.  I set up the party.  People start arriving.  To ensure she'd be here, I told Janeen I needed her help.  She arrived, saw that I had things under control, and left again to change outfits.

"No problem!" I think..."She'll be right back..."

Doug and Lt. Colonel W. pick up "the package".  They called from W's house.
"Is she there?"
"She went home to change.  She'll be right back.  Call back in five."
five minutes later...
"Is she back yet?"
"Not yet.  Don't know where she is.  Call back."
Ten minutes elapse.  Then 15.

People wonder why I'm pacing nervously all over the house.
Why Doug isn't around.
Why I have the phone glued to my ear and I'm neglecting my guests.

I find Max.  "RUN to Miss Janeen's house!  Get her out of her bathroom and tell her I need her RIGHT NOW!"

Max returns.  "She's not in her house!!!"


I finally discover she's been waylaid by a neighbor and is helping said neighbor cut fruit for the party.


Finally, FINALLY, I see her walking across the lawn.
30 minutes late!!!  For 30 minutes "the package" has been cooling his heels and just WAITING!!!!

"She's HERE!  SHE'S BACK!"

"Okay, we're just pulling in!"
(Or did he say we're just pulling out?)

I make an excuse and pull Janeen to the front of the house.

"Emily?  What's wrong?  What is it???"

No sign of them.  Must have said "Just pulling OUT".  Dang.
"Uh, nothing.  I'm just stressed because Doug isn't here.  Um...something happened...I'll tell you later...It's okay.  I'm okay.  Go get some food."

I wait.  I pace.  I want to cry.

Finally, FINALLY the car pulls up.

"MAX, go tell Miss Janeen I'm crying and I need her RIGHT NOW!"

Most people are in the backyard, but the people around me turn to stare since I'm obviously not crying.
And then...
He left for Afghanistan November 3rd, 2009.
He worked on disrespectful prisoners who lied and threatened him.   (And had really really bad teeth.)
He missed more than half of his baby's life.
He carried a gun every single day for 7 months.
But he served--and returned--with honor.
And now Janeen finally has her husband back...
Four little kids finally have their Daddy back...
and Doug finally has his friend and office-mate back.

Welcome Home Merrill!
WE (really) MISSED YOU!!!!!!!
Oh, and THANK YOU!!!

Jun 25, 2010

It's Just Another...It's Just Another Daaaaay!

Today Max decided to risk death by reconnecting the T.V. to the outlet and to the cable so the boys could watch cartoons in the wee hours of the morning.  (Next time I take drastic measures guess I'll have to use a baseball bat.)

Today the boys ate half a container full of cookies before I was even out of bed.  (Sorry neighbors and VT ladies!  No cookies fo you!)

Today Healthy (Spin Class Teaching/Marathon Running/Vegetable Eating) Friend Janeen dragged me on a million mile walk with her and her crazy walking buddies.  ALMOST KILLED ME!  And NOW I have a BLISTER on my FOOT!  BAH!!!

Today Sammy dialed 911 and hung up eliciting a visit from Security Forces.  (A man and woman--both with large fire arms--showed up and scared the CRAP out of him!)  He said his body made him dial and he couldn't help it.  (I should have reported Janeen for trying to kill me!)

Today Gabey wrapped his grubby little arms around my neck and said "I ya you, Mommy!"

Today Maxwell kept taking breaks from playing outside to curl up and read "Diary of a Wimpy Kid".  (You have no idea how ecstatically happy this makes me!!!)

Today Gabey said "I hungee Mommy!  Mommy, I hungee!!!" 6,328 times.

Today I considered and reconsidered the pregnancy vs. adoption vs. IVF question for the umpteenth time.  (Would someone PLEASE just give me a BABY GIRL?!?  PLEASE!?!?!?!?!?!)

Today Jessica, my new "Mother's Helper" came for the first time.  And I got to run two errands ALONE!!!  (I already adore you, Jessica!)

Today it was so hot and humid, nursing almost killed me.  (But you're so worth it little Gray-Gray!)

Today Sammy sighed and pouted dramatically 67 times.

Today Gabe ran away and was found--soaking wet--playing with the neighbor kids in their sprinkler.

Today we were invited to have dinner with friends and ate a LOT of meat (fajitas) and (homemade Oreo) ice cream.  And it was DE-LI-CIOUS!!!  (OK, I ate a lot.  Doug ate a tiny bit.  He's pretty much a health nut these days.)

Today on the way to dinner Samuel yelled out the car window to his friend...

Today we cleaned the house in preparation for the huge "Farewell Brunch" we're hosting here in the morning.  Crepes anyone?

TODAY was just another FABULOUSish day!!!
(walk not withstanding.)

What did YOU do today?

There's a smile on my face . . . For everyone 
There's a golden coin . . . That reflects the sun 
There's a lonely place . . . That's always cold 
There's a place in the stars . . . For when you get old...

--Oingo Boingo

P.S.  You're all a bunch of lazy, lazy, lazy bloggers!  ('cept YOU Heather!)  How is my fabulous Technology Meme supposed to circle the globe if NONE OF YOU DO IT!?!?!  Thanks for crushing my delusions of grandeur!!!  I have half a mind to not post the last installment of my Matsushima Bay report as PUNISHMENT!  HA!  That'll learn ya!

Jun 21, 2010

Technology Meme: Where were YOU?

We have a regular, old school, phone with cord in our bedroom.  We bought it so we'd have a working phone when the power goes out and the cordless wont work.

The other day, we were all upstairs when the phone rang.  I sent Max to my room to answer it.  Evidently, for the first time ever.  I heard him say "Hello?  Hello?"  and then hang up.

The phone rang again but this time I came into the room to see what was up.  Max was standing holding the phone with a bewildered look on his face.
"It's not working!  I don't know what button to push!!!"

Turns out, he'd just hung up on my friend because he was trying to find the "Talk" button and didn't know what to push.  Whoops!  It reminded me once again that my kids are growing up in a totally different world from the one of my childhood.

See, I still remember the first time I learned about the Internet.  I had heard about it before, but it wasn't until after my Freshman year in college that my brother the computer geek (and malicious blog hacker) explained it to me.  We were standing in my Mom's kitchen in Carlsbad.  He said, "You'll be able to read things and see pictures and movies from people all over the world."  It seemed so...unimaginable.  I couldn't quite wrap my brain around it.  (Still can't, actually.)

I remember the first time I heard about a "video phone".  We were still living on Camino, so I must have been 11 or 12.  I was in the kitchen  (next to the phone with the REALLY LONG cord) while my dad talked about this implausible invention from the future.  I remember picturing someone calling and seeing me in my underwear because I'd inadvertently answered the phone not knowing THEY had a video phone.  (I was obviously a little fuzzy on the details.)  Now I sit in front of my computer every single day and use the Internet to talk to people face to face.  Some right here in Japan, some on the other side of the world.
Sometimes I'm in my underwear and have to leave the video off.

The McQuinn family were the first (and only for quite a few years) people I knew with a car phone.  It was large, and clunky, and extraordinarily expensive to make a call on it.  Like, way more than regular long distance.  (Which then was extraordinarily expensive and paid for by-the-minute.)  The lucky car bestowed with such an awe-inspiring status symbol?  A white convertible with faux-wood panelling.

Brandon the geek also introduced me to another new-fangled invention.  He told me he had a program called "GPS" on his (awesome!) new Palm Pilot that could tell me where, exactly, I was in the world.  Incredulously, I pushed a button on the screen and a window opened that said "You are here!" followed by a big, black X.  Very funny, computer geeks of the world.  (GPS wasn't available to the general public at the time.)

In elementary school, we used our in-class computers solely for playing "Oregon Trail".  (rocked that game.)

In middle school, I listened to mix tapes on my Walk-man but listened to my collection of 5 C.D.'s on my very bulky new "Two Tape Decks plus C.D. Player" at home.

In High School; I upgraded to a Disc-Man, took "keyboarding" and learned to type on a fancy electric type writer, and used our home computer to play "Mine Sweeper".

I didn't get my first e-mail account until my Freshman year of college (ahh, Emzer@Juno.com!  I thought "forwards" were so funny and clever back then!) and didn't get my first little Nokia cell phone until two years after that.  (It had that Snake game on it where you tried not to run into your ever-lengthening tail.  Used to play it on the bus ride back to Provo from UVSC.)

I started my blog shortly after having a couple of teenagers at church explain to me what a blog was.  That was in 2005.  One of the girls, Connie, had a shirt that said "I'm blogging this."  I want that shirt.

Those were the days!  So tell me:  What are your fondest technology memories?  Leave a comment or do this Meme on your blog and then comment with the link!

Technology Meme 

What kind of phone did you grow up with in your house?

What is your first memory of the Internet?
--What was one of the first sites you remember visiting?

Do you remember the first time you heard about cell phones/car phones/or "video" phones?

Have you ever owned a tape deck?  Boom Box?

Did you own a Walk-Man?

What was the first C.D. you owned or purchased?
--What did you play it on?

How old were you when you got your first cell phone?

How old were you when you got your first e-mail account?

Do you blog?  If so, how old were you when you started?

Do you Skype?
--Ever called anyone in Japan???

What's your craziest technology related memory?

Jun 19, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

Last week:
Me:  DOUG!  You're home! (from his early meeting at church.)  I need your help to take your Father's Day Present Pictures!  Hurry!
Doug:  Continues methodically chopping veggies for an omelet.
Me:  (snappishly)  Why do you insist on making a big complicated breakfast on Sundays!?!  Just eat a bowl of cereal already!!!  I need you NOW!
Doug: (who doesn't like cereal)  Seriously?  You're seriously telling me not to make myself breakfast so I can take pictures, for YOUR present, for MY...

This week:  Surprise!  Pictures for you Doug!

Douglas,  I love you.  Thank you for being my Baby-Daddy.  I'm glad the boys have you.  And thank you for staying married to me after last Sunday.  You're obviously a great man!

P.S.  Anyone know how to make Gabey's "D" stand out more?

Marinepia Aquarium - Stop 4

Marinepia was established in 1927 (and it's showing it's age a bit.  It's not exactly pristine like say, Monterey Bay Aquarium.) making it one of the oldest aquariums in Japan.  Over 300 different species (many of them butt ugly) totaling over 4000 marine animals are displayed in the aquarium's geographic theme parks.  (Seriously.  Biggest bunch of ugly sea life I've ever seen.  Too ugly to even want to photograph.  The seal show was cool though!)

Welcome to the Aquarium!  
Buy a stuffed animal while you're here!

"I wonder if I could touch one of the penguins and get away with it..."

"Hey, what's the little Gaijin doing in our picture?"
"Oh well!  PEACE!"

"You pway in da pee-pees wif me Ashey?"

"Dad, the seals play volleyball better than Mommy!"

And just as an added bonus, 
Wanna know how Gray was feeling about the trip?

Part 5, the Grand Finale if you will, on Tuesday.  I have a few other things set to go up in the mean time.

Jun 18, 2010

Matsushima Bay - Stop 3 - Zuiganji Temple and Grounds

This place was actually really cool.  The majority of the temple, including the largest main building, is closed for renovation until something crazy like 2019.  But that's okay because we spent most of our allotted time here in the "Sando" (approach).

Zuiganji Temple and Grounds
Right inside the gate to the grounds is this shrine for babies who've died or been aborted.  Hence the bib he's wearing.  (Yes, it really is a bib.)

Next you walk past all of these super cool REALLY old caves filled with carvings on your right:

And a beautiful Cedar forest on your left:

Sando (Approach)
The cedar trees on both sides of the approach to the temple are about 400 years old.  The atmostphere of  a separate side path with caves and stone monuments is quite solemn.  People who visit the temple can cast away their sins while passing through the approach.

Zuiganji temple caves
Originally used as an area for memorial services and a cinerarium to house the ashes of the deceased, making of these caves dates back to the Kamakura period (1192-1333) and they continued to use them until the Edo period (1603-1867).  In ancient times, Matsushima was called the "Koyasan of Tohoku" --a sacred, hallowed ground where many went to pray for safe passage to the Pure Land in their next life.

Zuiganji Temple
Founded in 828 as a temple of the Tendai sect.  It is now one of Tohoku's most famous Zen temples, well known for it's beautifully painted sliding doors (fusuma).  The original temple was built in 828, but was destroyed and subsequently rebuilt and dedicated to Kosai by Masamune on 1609.  Its architecture is Shoinzukuri, which was typical during the Momoyama period.  The adjacent building, Seiryuden, house an excess of one thousand cultural treasures associated with Zuiganji and the Date clan.

Trip Part ONE
Trip Part TWO

Next stop:  AQUARIUM!!!

Jun 17, 2010

Next Stop: Lunch (and Dessert) in Matsushima Bay

Wanna know one of the many things I LOOOOOOOVE about Japan?

Vending machine ice cream!!!
Only 120 Yen (roughly $1.50) for delicious dessert on a stick!!!

Guaranteed to make travel-weary kids happy!  (And admittedly, Mom's too.)  (I don't recommend the Sweet Potato particularly.  It's not great.  But all the other flavors I've tried have been fabulous!)

Also, just because we brought sandwiches, doesn't mean we can't pose with 
the happy tofu!  

At least...I THINK it's tofu....
Me:  "Hey Doug!  Take a picture of me with this happy tofu-looking thingy!"
Boys:  Dad's taking a picture...must get in picture!!!
Doug:  Shakes head sadly but takes picture anyway.

Also, check out this super snappy tour guide:


Jun 16, 2010

Sometimes We Do Japan Stuff - Matsushima Bay - First Stop

'Member how we live in Japan?  I know...it's easy to forget.  But we do!  And sometimes we actually do stuff off of the base!  (Quite frequently actually, I just rarely blog about it.)

But this is blog worthy:  Last Saturday we took an ITT tour to Matsushima Bay.

Matsushima Bay is about 3.5 hours  South-East (I'm making this up!?) of us and is considered one of the three most scenic spots in Japan. (<---that part is true.)

We left the base at 6:30 (!#$@!) and arrived a little before 11a.m.  Our first stop was...

Godaido Hall
(Info from the guide book in italics)

"On an islet known as Godaidojima, stands a worship hall which was reconstructed by Masamune in early 1609.  The 'Go' of Godaido refers to the five enshrined statues which represents the Mikkyo."  

"Sukashibashi:  The bridge connecting Godaido island with the coast was intentionally constructed with large gaps between the boards.  This is so that one can see the ripples on the water through the bridge."

Slatted bridge--awesome for strollers!  Curse whomever forgot the Baby Bjorn!  (me)

"The ceiling within the hall is decorated with the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac.  This hall is generally not opened to the public except on special ceremonies held once every thirty-three years."
"Ringin' my beh-eh-ell, ringin' my bell, my bell..."

"The Godaido, which is perced on a small island in Matsushima Bay, has special significance for people throughout the area.  Within the vividly colored inside hall are the Godai Myoo Zo, five esoteric Buddhist statues."

to be continued...

Jun 14, 2010

Living With Boys Means...

Discovering random acts of cuteness.

(Since I'm usually discovering random acts of destruction, I thought I'd document how I found Gray-Gray when I checked on him this morning.  The fake flower was deposited by Sammy before he went to school.)

Jun 3, 2010

Dear Future Teenagers; Grown-ups are Stupid Too Sometimes!

Alternate Titles:
"A Cautionary Camping Tale" or 
"Why Doug Thinks I Take Far Too Long to Tell a Simple Story"

When I start this story, you might think you have an inkling as to how it will end.
You don't.

This story starts with the Father's and Son's Camp-out, put on by our church (specifically Doug) last weekend.

Last Friday, Doug got out all the gear, packed a huge duffel bag full of clothing and blankets, gathered our three oldest boys, and headed to a nearby (Momoishi?) beach for the annual Misawa Branch Father's and Son's Camp-out.

Two sleeping bags were left behind, not a single bag of marshmallows was left at the Commissary, and my Boca-burger tin-foil dinners MAY have given D food poisoning; BUT, despite these shortcomings, evidently the event was a huge success.  The boys had lots of fun, all got filthy dirty and came home thoroughly exhausted.

But before coming home, they did a little beach combing.

I'm assuming the goal was to find more of this:

Sea Glass.

We love hunting for sea glass!

As you may have gathered from my recent Giveaway of a sea glass necklace.

Incidental, my friend Mel, was the winner of said necklace.

This is Mel:
This is me dancing at her bachelorette party many many moons ago:

Back when I had boy hair and shopped at the D-A-V (Disabled-American-Veterans Thrift Store.)

Back before my preppy husband purged my soul-and closet-of all style.  And polyester.

Back to the story...

While there wasn't any cool sea glass to be had, Doug didn't come home empty handed.  He brought home a few rocks instead.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, er--base, I was invited to partake in a "Girls Night" with Healthy-Friend-Janeen and her daughters and a neighbor daughter.  After a delicious vegetarian dinner, we did some Mani/Pedi's.  The little ladies in attendance both had their cute little fingers and toes pampered and painted in multi-colored patterns.

Unfortunately, baby Gray (the only boy allowed to attend) was a bit fussy, so my fingers and toes were left unadorned.

Maybe that is what put me in the mood for additional self-improvement and pampering.

Either way, on with the story...

Skipping to Sunday.  I ditched church.  (Due to another series of circumstances involving new dressers and allergies, I was up all night coughing and slept in the next day.)  That afternoon, when I finally dragged my sorry bottom to the shower, I noticed a new addition in said shower.  A small gray rock.  A pumice stone.

Making up for my missed manicure of the other night, I grabbed it and scrubbed my heals vigorously; all the while wondering if this really was a pumice stone and this really was what Doug had intended for it by putting it in the shower.  At some point in my scrubbing, my eyes fell upon my stomach.

Now, don't think me unlady-like for mentioning the following:  Since mid-way through my pregnancy, I've been cursed with a sore affliction.  I've blogged about it before.  It's called...

linea nigra.

black line.

Basically, in some women, sometimes, while pregnant, we get a line of darker pigment running down our stomach.  Mine starts 6 inches above my belly button and goes down to two inches below it.  During pregnancy, it's light.  After your stomach shrinks and it gets compressed it's very dark.

Just one of the fabulous side affects of that wonderful physical condition called pregnancy.

So I had a brilliant idea.  Although this line will eventually fade on it's own, I thought I'd help it along a bit.  In the past I've rubbed exfoliating face scrub on my stomach with minimal result.  This time I thought I'd be a little more efficient.

I used the pumice stone and I pumiced.  Hard.

And then I got out of the shower.

And my stomach started to sting.

And I started to worry.

Maybe I'd gotten little rock particles in my skin!?

Maybe this wasn't such a brilliant idea!?

I decided I'd better spray it with antiseptic spray just to be on the safe side.

I sprayed.

I screamed.

Like a Banshee with a hangnail.

Later, as I tried to nurse Gray without letting him actually touch my blistered stomach, I complained to my neighbor about my affliction over the phone.

After laughing at me and then mocking me and then calling me "Lucy" (as in, I Love....)
she offered to bring over some soothing burn cream.

She brought it over.

I rubbed it on.

I let out an extra, EXTRA loud scream.

She had grabbed the wrong tube.  It wasn't soothing burn cream.  It was extra EXTRA strong antiseptic cream.

And that is the story of how I acquired an eight inch long, one inch wide scab on my stomach.  (And belly button.)

And why I can't hug my kids or nurse my baby normally.

And why you should never use strange Japanese beach rocks on your skin.

No matter how dire your need for a pedicure or how much you love sea glass.

And that is all I'm going to say about THAT!

Post Edit:  It's taken me awhile to get around to digging out my old scrapbooks to find pictures of Mel and I being ridiculous.  So I'd like to report that my stomach is now almost entirely healed...with minimal scarring.  And furthermore, I think the line is lighter!  So it helped!!!