Jul 31, 2010

Sammy Quote

"Mommy, I think you should have a fudge Popsicle so HE (pointing at Gray) can have a fudge Popsicle."

Sammy's birthday post coming soon.

Jul 27, 2010

Camping Near Ryusendo Caves

After going to Korea on Monday/Tuesday, we turned around and went camping Thursday/Friday/Saturday.

It was the longest week of my life and packing for the trip in million-degree heat may have caused a tiny (ginourmous) amount of marital discord, but we did it and it was pretty darn cool.
At this point you ask, "Does Doug EVER have to work?" and I answer, "Yes.  Whenever I want to sleep-in, (daily) go to the store with no kids, or whenever the toilet over-flows, or a kid has a poop accident, he is at work."

So we drove the 19 (3-4) hours South to Ryusendo and camped at the camp ground right next to the caves with 4 other families from church.  It was a pretty nice facility with grass, a cooking area with running water, clean new bathrooms, and even a coin operated shower.  Oh, and some of the largest bugs I have EVER seen.  Present company excluded.
I was worried about how Gray would sleep because it was so stinkin' hot and our tent didn't come equipped with a ceiling fan.  But he was a champ and did awesome.
(My kids are great sleepers.  Thank you BabyWise.)

The caves were pretty darn spectacular even though the boys were less than impressed.  It was super cold inside and their clothes were wet (because it was super HOT outside and we were playing in the water) so they walked in and immediately wanted to leave.

But we dragged them through the whole route anyway.
Doug kept trying to get Max to look at cool things and get excited and finally Max replied
From a Japanese website:
"One of Japan's 3 greatest limestone caves, Ryusendo has a number of underground lakes enriched with water of exquisite features. Sceneries of the lakes, keep the massive volume of water ever quietly, are exposed to visitors when they proceed in a long, narrow, and complex underground path in the giant cave.
The first lake to be encountered in the cave is called "Ryugu-fuchi (pond of Dreagon palace)", known for high level of transparency of water as one of the highest in the world with 41.5m. The third lake has a depth of 98m, and its emerald-like shining water is the highlight of the tour. 
Spring volume mounts 17 thousand tons daily in Ryusendo, flowing out into a river. Temperature of this remarkable water is naturally kept at 7~10℃ throughout year. Notably this water is bottled and marketed nationally under brand name "Ryusendo-no-Mizu (Water of Ryusendo)", known also for winning Gold awards in Monde Selection.

It was a great trip despite coming home with 10,000 mosquito bites and a boat load of laundry.

Maybe we'll go camping again someday.  
But not someday soon.

Jul 26, 2010

Don't mess with me...it's HOT!

For Lyana.  Who thought this needed to be blogged.

I admit I was already in a mood.  This was before we got the A/C in our car fixed.  After a long hot ride home from church, we were greeted by a broilingly hot house.  Plus, I had invited guests for dinner without bothering to consider that our home was devoid of food.  (We had pancakes.  They weren't very good.  Sorry new family.  I'll do better next time.)

Anyway, have I mentioned it was hot?
It was really hot and I walked around the corner into the kitchen and caught Max with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar.  Which was the actual sugar canister.  Yes, that's right.  My little sugar-addicted son (takes after me) was about to eat a handful of white sugar.  (Even on my worst craving days I don't stoop that low.  BROWN sugar, yes.  But WHITE?  ick!)

I may have yelled at him.

Then I moved on to the living room.  Yes, I know Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest, but the other thing I failed to consider when inviting guests over, was that the house was trashed.  The family room floor, though vacuumed daily, needed to be vacuumed again.

So I started vacuuming.

Which is when I discovered the wet spots.  Two rather large sticky soggy spots on the carpet.

Me:  "WHO has been EATING in here???"
Sammy: "I have!"  (He's too young to know he was about to catch it big time.)
Sammy:  "Corn Chex!" he says with an unrepentent smile.
He really shouldnta smiled...

That's when I snapped.  Sneaking food into the family room while sneaking early morning TV was just too much for me to handle in 100 degrees of liquid heat.

Me:  "That's IT!  You guys are in TROUBLE!  NO.MORE.T.V.!!!"
(I've threatened this before.  They weren't scared.)

I walked to the computer desk and picked up the first thing I saw.  A pair of kid safety scissors.

I walked back to the T.V.

With Max and Sam both watching, picked up a black cord and snipped it cleanly in half.

After a moment of stunned silence, both boys burst into hysterical tears.
Max ran sobbing to tell his Daddy--whom he mistakenly thought would side with him.  (Doug was trying not to laugh when he came into the room and saw the damage.)

Now, for the record, I knew what I was snipping.  The cord that gives us the AFN T.V. stations including the "Family" channel with all the cartoons.  Not the power cord or anything.  And I've seen them snipped and spliced and fixed before, so I was pretty confident I wasn't doing any serious damage.
And I was mostly certain I wouldn't be electrocuted--which really would have ruined the effect.  

When the boys realized they still had access to the Wii and the DVD player, they were slightly mollified.  Until later in the week when they ticked-off Doug and he ripped the DVD player out and shoved it in the top of the coat closet.  (It's been very very hot.)  We've told them the Wii goes next and after that the T.V. gets used for batting practice.

Let's just hope for all of our sakes, it doesn't get any hotter.  *sigh.*  Or it's going to be a long, loooong summer!

Post Script Rant:  Most Japanese schools get a fraction of our "summer" time off of school.  Only around six weeks.  Makes a whole lot more sense than three stinkin' months--which is out-dated and just plain LAME if you ask me.  I'm all for "year-round" school.  More progress, less "re-learning".  Who's with me?

Post Post Script:  My knee caps are sweating.

Jul 21, 2010

Been to the (Mormon) Temple Lately?

Are you a Mormon?  Have you been to the temple lately?
How long did it take you to get there?  Five minutes?  Twenty five?  Two hours?

Worthy members of our church are encouraged to visit the temple as often as possible.  Once a week would be FABULOUS.  Once a month is considered pretty dang good.

With more temples being built all the time, it's getting easier and easier for members of our church to visit the temple.  But there are still areas where temple access is limited.  For example, right now we live in Northern Honshu Japan.  The nearest temple is in Tokyo.  To get to the Tokyo temple, we can; 
a) take a train $300 per person r/t 
b) take a plane for $300 per person r/t, or 
c) drive for 12 hours each way plus a few hundred dollars in gas.
d) wait and go in the states.

Which is why we don't often get to the temple.  At the last General Conference it was announced that a new temple was being built in Sapporo on the island of Hokkaido to the North of us.  Unfortunately, this is still almost just as time and cost prohibitive.

Which is why we were excited to gain access to a new option:

Just so happens there is a temple in Seoul Korea.  
Just so happens they started offering military "hops" (free flights) to Osan Korea recently.  
They leave here Monday morning, and return from Osan to Misawa Tuesday morning.
Did I say free?  They're free-fifty-free.  Free transportation to Korea.
A two-and-a-half hour plane trip and two hours by train to get to the temple!

Only problem:  The temple, any temple, isn't open on Monday.  Meaning we'd have to stay in Korea a week to take advantage of a hop and visit the temple.  

Except we did it!  Without staying a week!  Our friend Tyler called the Seoul Temple and asked if they'd make an exception and open for us on a Monday.  The temple president said okay!

Monday morning early, six couples (many interested parties couldn't get work off) and one adorable Baby Gray headed out of the country.

We flew to Korea. (watched "Date Night" on the plane.  Loved it--especially edited!)
We checked into the on-base hotel in Osan.
We took a taxi to the train station.
We took two trains into Seoul.
(We were VERY fortunate to meet a kind, English-speaking Korean who helped us connect with the second train, travelled with us, and then got off 3-stops early to make sure we found our way.  The man in the below picture is not that man.)
And after only nine hours, we arrived in Seoul and were taken the last few blocks to the temple by a very kind temple worker with a van.

Five adults got to do a "session".  Doug and Baby Gray stayed out.  (Doug sacrificed so I could attend this trip.  He is going to Tokyo next month to climb Mt. Fuji so he'll go then.)

The Seoul temple is small but beautiful.  Like all temples, it is decorated inside with a lot of white and light colors, but it also has some beautiful Korean furniture and neat Asian influence in the decor.
The session was great and the company was excellent.  (The other two couples are great friends and we were happy to be with them.)

After our visit we headed out into Seoul to find a yummy authentic place to eat dinner.  I think our choice was pretty authentic, but whether or not it was "yummy" is debatable.
(Men say "yes". Women say "eh!") 

"Small intestine of cattle soft tofu..."  
"Add raw egg as your taste..."

Fortunately, a cafe around the corner offered Gelato and Waffles for dessert.  Unanimously declared delicious.  (Seriously the best waffle I've ever eaten.)

That night we slept in air conditioned bliss and headed out at 5:30 a.m. to go home.
And we're back.  Back to un-air-conditioned purgatory.  And already looking forward to our next trip.

Thanks for opening the temple just for us Seoul people!  Thanks for coming P family!  Thanks for bumping us to Business Class check-in guy!  And especially, thanks for planning it H family!  Let's do it again soon!

To learn more about the temple and the "top secret" stuff we do in there, please watch this super short movie here and then read more here.  And if you don't, and go to some random anti-Mormon spot on the Internet to learn about Mormons or Mormon temples, don't blame me when you are woefully misinformed and brought down into mental muck by the pathetic attempts to disparage an awesome religion and its sacred ordinances.
Just sayin'.

Until next time...

Jul 16, 2010

Last Adventure of our Long Weekend Part 1: Osorezan

Believe it or not, Doug had Monday AND Tuesday off for the 4th.  And although our Nanbu Town adventure was long and tiring and (I believe I mentioned the broken A/C) HOT, we decided to make use of the free Tuesday and follow our friends the F's to the brink of hell and back.  (Can you tell I--a mostly reformed potty mouth--am enjoying the excuse to say 'hell' a lot?)

So, we went to Osorezan!
"One of the three holiest sites of Japan, Founded in the ninth century by Great Buddhist Master Jikaku, En'nin....At the center of the sacred area of Osorezan is Lake Usori, and next to it a large tract covered with white sand.  Surrounding them are eight peaks.  The landscape of Osorezan with the eight peaks surrounding it represents a lotus flower of eight petals, the symbol of the wold of Buddha.  In its central area there are 108 ponds of boiling water and mud, which correspond with the 108 worldly desires and the hells linked to each of them.  Side by side with the hellish ponds the woods, the lake and the coast of white sand present a wonderful scene, which suggests the beauty of Paradise."  (Taken from the pamphlet they gave us when we got there.)

(I'm really not an Amazon woman.  I'm only 5'9.75". This is just a bad angle.)

So basically, many Japanese people believe this is where souls come after death and that it's the gateway to either heaven or hell.  Specifically, they believe the spirits of babies who've died or been aborted come here to try to make it to heaven.  Therefore, it is literally covered with pinwheels, (to entertain the babies) piles of rocks, (to get closer to heaven) and offerings of food and yen and small statues.

It's a really fascinating place once you get past the sulfur smell.  (The yellow in the water?  That's sulfur.)  And if it weren't considered a very sacred place, we would have been tempted to have a picnic on the beach and play in the warmish lake water for awhile!

(We actually did dig in the sand a little when someone discovered a little spout of hot water coming up right on the beach.)
Anyway, it was pretty darn cool, but the day was only half done.
We had another adventure in store.
And I'll tell you all about it!


(Or, ya know--a week from now.  Whatever.)

(And by-the-way, all this practical journaling for posterity is really getting in the way of me writing pointless rants!  I hope all you who are just using me for my Japan appreciate these posts!)

Jul 13, 2010

Monday in Nanbu Town - Fourth of July Weekend

I suppose to be totally fair, I should mention what we did on the actual 4th.
We went to church.
We sang patriotic hymns.
And we had a BBQ at our friends' home with two brand new families.
(One of these families just moved from the same ward as my sister Jenny.  Small world!)

We did NOT (reverently and in keeping with the spirit of the Sabbath day) watch fireworks as planned because they were rained out and postponed until Monday.

Now back to Monday:  The free base paper did a feature on a *relatively* nearby town called Nanbu.  It listed tons of fun things to see and do with typical directions on how to get there that went something like this:

...Once you leave the freeway, count 9 stop lights past the first Pachinko Parlor.  Turn slight leftish.  We'll call this point A.  From here, go 3.67 kilometers to point B near the green Ramen shop.  Combine points A and B to find the sub total of point C which is halfway to your destination divided by one Happy Drug pharmacy...

Anyway, we convinced three other families to come along, and with numerous kids in tow, ventured out to explore new territory.
Robert and Lyana took the lead and somehow managed to get us to our first destination--the one I was most excited about; an artist colony with pottery studio and craft boutique and restaurant.  After a lengthy (and for us, extremely HOT drive--A/C is broken) we arrived to find the place closed down.  A few people peeked at us from a home on the premises, but they kept their distance.

Max found an unlocked door and wandered in to the restaurant but was quickly ordered OUT by his unsurprised parents.  Then we all stood around for a few minutes hoping everything would magically come to life and all the buildings would open before our eyes.  They didn't.

So, we strapped all 38 loud and restless children back into their car seats, chalked it up to the weird Japanese aversion to being open on Mondays, and headed to our NEXT destination:
A GIANT (100 feet high) ROPEY DRAGON CLIMBING THINGY!!!  (A sure kid pleaser.)

We found our way there...
We unloaded all the kids...
We all walked to the Dragon Thingy...


It was closed.

Max climbed over the barricade and started crawling upward anyway.  (Much to, once again, no ones surprise.)  This time only one parent ordered him out--ME.  The other parent said "I think that sign says 'Monday's are FREE!  Please enjoy!'"

Then we all stood around for a few minutes really wishing we could read Japanese signs and hoping it would magically open for us.

It didn't.

The heavens did, however, open up for us and bless us with a torrential down-pour which drenched half of our party.

When the storm passed, we strapped all 67 wet and frustrated children back into their car seats and headed to our NEXT destination:


This place, although it didn't appear to have anyone around, was at least not closed.  (Though this doesn't mean it was open.)  And it was very pretty.

"The 700 year old Hokoji Temple was built between 1249 and 1256 AD.  It was constructed on the side of Mt. Nakui means one must climb up from the main temple to see all the shrines and end up at the magnificent 3 stories pagoda in the back.  While passing through the scenic “1000 pine trees” road, be sure to look for the “Grandfather Cedar”, a 1100 year old tree that towers over 100 feet with a circumference of 25 feet around."

(I'm just trying to have good photograph posture but it looks like I'm trying to stick my boobs out.)

After the kids were thoroughly shrined-out, tired and hungry we travelled to our fourth and final destination.
The one the kids were REALLY excited about.
The one that made up for everything.
Thank the blessed heavens it was OPEN!

"BADE-PARK"  An indoor/outdoor pool with large tube water slide.  All the kids had a blast.   Gray got to swim for the first time and I got to don a swimsuit for the first time this post partum.  

(This pool was reserved for swim class.  Cute little kiddies!)

Good times were had by all.

(I would post more pictures here, but evidently I'm not allowed to post pictures of my friends, in their swimsuits, on my blog.  Wimps.)

Next up:

Our trip to the Gates of HELL!!!

I'll tell you all about it...


Jul 10, 2010

Tonami Clan Memorial Village -1st stop of the Fourth of July Weekend

Did I mention the Gates of Hell?  Well, we'll get to that.  But I'd better go chronologically.  The first outing of the looong 4th of July weekend was a visit, with our new friends the O-T's, to Tonami Clan Memorial Village.  ("This site honors Yasuto Hirosawa who brought Western farming methods to Japan."  In case you were wondering.)

This is Nya, Gabe, and Nya's Mommy.  They go to church with us.  Nya has been over to play a few times and Gabey LOVES her.

 (Notice Nya's fingers in the below picture...this little girl has some BIG personality.  She's a cutie-pie.)

I should mention we did a kid swap with some neighbors on this day.  Max went with the P's to a baseball game in Sendai while (their kid) Chipmunk stayed with us for the day.  Chip is Sam's best friend so this arrangement worked well for everyone.

This is Doug with Chipmunk (who is not our son) in a go-cart (not our go-cart) with a Japanese man (who is not our Japanese man.)

It was fun day until the pig farm smells and the fog rolled in.  Then it was time for us to roll out.

Next stop:  MONDAY!  Wherein we take a bunch of cars on a wild goose chase looking for pottery!

Stay tuned!

Jul 6, 2010

Matsushima Bay - Last Stop

I said I'd finish this trip re-cap on Tuesday, right?  Well, it's a Tuesday.

The last activity of the day was a Ferry Ride across the actual bay.  I happen to love Ferry boats.  As does McDreamy from Grey's Anatomy.  Which is why I'm sure we'd get along swimmingly.

The cool thing about this particular bay, and what makes it so famous, is that it's dotted with hundreds of little "islands"--some of which are super cool looking thanks to erosion from wind and waves.
All of them are named.  Lucky for you, I've lost the brochure so I wont name them for you.  I'll just give you a little caption so you know what you're looking at.

White Lighthouse.
Long Bridge.

Short Bridge.

Godaido Island--our first stop.

Seagulls swarming after the ferry hoping for hand-outs.  (I'm not a huge fan of seagulls.)

Max and friend Jonathan discussed living on this island and parking their boat in one of these handy "garages".

We think this one looks like Donald Duck.  Agree or disagree?  Talk amongst yourselves.

The one on the left is "Female" the one on the right, "Male".  Why?  Talk amongst yourselves again.

It was a beautiful and relaxing ride.  And lucky for us, after such a long day, we got to climb into a bus and didn't even have to drive home!  It may have sucked a little bit (for our friends) when (their) little Ashley projectile vomited all over herself and her car seat and the bus seat, but lets face it...no long trip is without its ups and stinky little downs.  (There's another potential pun in their about up-chuck, but I'm going to leave it to your imagination.)

And THAT concludes our Matsushima Bay adventure.  It was an all around fantastic day and I highly recommend the trip if you're ever in the neighborhood...or on the continent.

Next up:  Our trip to the GATES OF HELL!

Be afraid.  Be very afraid.

Jul 2, 2010

Hey, thanks for all the comment love on the last post.  It was a pretty darn awesome day and Doug did get some pretty sweet pictures.  (And I got all the comments my little heart could desire!  Buahahahaha!)

Today has been a pretty great day too so far.  This morning Doug told me I could go to Pottery for a few hours if he could go on a two hour bike first.  (This is why he's the perfect husband.)  Done and done.  He went on a nice long ride with these two:

When he got back he said
"You need to get in shape."  (This is why he is NOT the perfect husband.)
I said
"You can't hang out with Merrill and Janeen anymore."
and then,
"Leave me alone!!"
and then,
"What are you talking about?  Look at these guns!"

Then I went to pottery and worked my bi's and tri's.  (I don't even know what those are.)
Actually, I trimmed two colanders I made a few nights ago.  We'll see how they turn out.  I'll post a picture if I manage the rest of the process without screwing something up too badly.

In the mean time, this is a picture of Doug's other Father's Day present:

My first attempt at a "KnobandAll" as seen on this pottery blog.  Except I didn't quite get the Knob...and all.  So I had to add one.  But I DID make the pot and lid as a single piece and then separate them later.  So I'm sorta a pottery rock star.  (not even remotely.  Shoulda reviewed the video first.)

Have I mentioned that I've recently become addicted to Pottery Blogs?  I've added about 10 to my reader in the last few months.  I love them.  I study them.  I comment and ask questions on them.  I fantasize about an alternate life where instead of going to Utah for college, I went to England to apprentice with a famous potter!  (And since it's MY fantasy, I can pretend Doug is the potter with a passion for clay instead of tiny teeth!  Leave me and my fantasies alone.)

Also, despite the recent hire of my "mother's helper", I still can't seem to get--or keep--my house clean.  What is my problem?  (Don't say Pottery Blogs or we can't be friends any more.)  Really, it's not blogging.  It's my children!  They have the Midas Touch!  Only they leave MESS and DIRT and SHOES and PAPER and STICKS and GRASS instead of GOLD behind!  And okay, it might be partially due to blogging, but YOU'RE not allowed to say it.  Only I am.

And now, I must finish eating (Just finished nursing.  Yes, I can nurse and type at the same time.  'Cause I'm awesome.) and go to The Horse Park.
More later.