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!
---
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!

---

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!

-----
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!

Nov 19, 2010

A Retro Welcome Home

I talked all about our trip to the states but I never mentioned what we came home to:
When I unlocked the front door and walked in, I saw a perfectly straight row of white balloons hanging from the ceiling.  I thought maybe I'd walk around the corner and see a "Welcome Home!" sign.

But no...

I walked around the corner and saw PAC-MAN!!!
Which is actually far cooler than "Welcome Home!"


There were many, MANY straight white rows of balloons hanging throughout the house.  The balloons in the corners were larger than the others.  Just like the white dots in the game.

 Each balloon was hung from white thread and stuck to the ceiling with blue painters tape.
We weren't surprised to learn that the project took the perpetrators a few hours to complete.

Turns out it was done by two punks in the neighborhood.  (One Doctor, one Rocket Scientist)

My guess is that they just really really REALLY missed us and wanted to spend some quality time with our stuff.

Or maybe they just really, really like Pac-Man.

Maybe it was a metaphor for the duality of our lives here combining both Japanese and American influences.


Or maybe it was just a hint that we just need to be more careful whom we leave our keys with in the future.

Whatever the point, I thought it was pretty awesome.
LONG LIVE PAC-MAN!!!

Nov 18, 2010

I Laughed, I Cried, I Blogged About It...



I saw this clip on another "Mommy Blog" and laughed and laughed.  (And wanted to cry.)

I swear on a stack of every holy book in the world that while I was watching this, Gabe was standing at my elbow doing the EXACT same thing.  As he does multiple times daily.  Only when he finally gets my attention and I say "WHAT!?!!?!?!!?" he says "I yub you Mama!" and runs away.

Man, I love that annoying little angel!

Nov 17, 2010

A Few Little Things...

  • I had a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast this morning.  (Great food choice!)  I put sunflower seeds, raisins, and Japanese cow milk* on top.  It was really good!  (Yay me!)  When I finished, I was still hungry and decided to have a leetle bit more.  I poured the (whole) oats, dumped on a few sunflower seeds, and went to grab the last few raisins in the box.  That's when I saw a suspicious clump.  I pulled out the wad of raisins and found a little web surrounding some sort of caterpillar looking thing.  I had just eaten some of those raisins.  I wanted to gag.  And cry.  And gag.  I threw the box away, contemplated throwing every perishable item in the whole pantry away, and then got out the chocolate chips and dumped those on top of my oatmeal instead.  (Whomever told me it's okay to put chocolate chips on oatmeal should be severely punished.  (Kim B.)  It's like eating an oatmeal cookie for breakfast!  Not a great idea for a hypoglycemic!)  After I finished this bowl, I dumped some (more) chocolate chips in a cup and I'm eating them while I type.  Some things, like bugs in food you've just been eating, do psychological damage and require immediate chocolate healing.  Gross!  *shudder* Munch.
  • In regards to my overall health and healing, I'll just say this:  "I got bettah!  I think I'll go for a walk!  I feeeel happpppppyyyyyyy!"**
  • In other news, we're at the beginning of the end of our time here in Japan.  Friends are finding out their next assignments and we have to face the fact that we'll all be going our separate ways SOON.  It's quite exciting but mostly just really depressing.  I don't know where everyone will end up yet, but I can say that we have a trip to Argentina and most likely Germany planned for...the minute we pay off all our (stupid) student loans!  (And Romania if you're still there, Jay-Bird!)
  • In other other news, my cousin Wendy is coming to visit.  Obviously because she's the ONLY family member who loves me.  Or maybe 'cause she's an uber-famous travelling photographer.  Whatever.  I'll take what I can get.  (If you want her to take your picture in late April, let me know.)

I could go on, but I have to blog for 12 more straight days, so I think that's it for me today.



*Yes, we always note and/or differentiate the type of milk we're referring to around here since we cater to so many milk needs.  I.E.  Doug's ultra pasteurized (nasty imported from the U.S.) Skim Milk (cheaper than the local milk and with less fat), my Unsweetened (Green) Soy for healthy and/or lactose-intolerant days (and all dinner smoothies) and my delicious Japanese Cow 1.5% for when I'm feeling unhealthy and rebellious, Max and Sam's (Light Blue) Light Vanilla Soy, (Gabe drinks whatever anyone gives him) and Gray's Breast milk and/or formula since our pump broke.)

**Dear Mom and/or any Aunts and Uncles who may be reading.  This is a quote from Monty Python and The Holy Grail.  Call Brandon and he'll quote the rest of the movie for your listening pleasure.

Dear "16 and Pregnant";

I don't generally (read: never) watch day-time television, but I happened to catch a few minutes of your MTV show yesterday.   You were really stressed about school and your boyfriend and your family and I felt so sad for you and everything you're going through.  As I rocked my baby to sleep in my arms, it was hard to contemplate the struggles your little one is likely to have in the future.

Clearly I don't have all the details and I'm making a snap judgement here, but I have to say this:  Please don't keep your baby!  It is apparent to me and everyone watching that your boyfriend is immature and he's just not that in to you.  Life with him is going to be really hard and adding a baby to the mix will make it even harder!

I have a much better idea:  Give your baby (girl) to ME!  She could grow up in a loving and secure home with four overprotective and adoring older brothers, two happily married, mature(ish) loving parents and all the ridiculously cute girl clothes she could ever want.  (And oh...the tea parties we'll have while the boys are all at scout camp...!!!)

Anyway...

Just thought I'd put the offer out there.  Let me know if you're interested.

Sincerely,
Emily

Nov 16, 2010

Still Sick.

Still tired.

Going to bed.

(30 days straight of my blog just isn't all it's cracked up to be, is it?!)

Nov 14, 2010

I'm Sick.

Gabe did it.  He took his shoes and socks off and ran around outside in the cold.  When he came in, his nose was dripping with green snot.  Now the whole dang family is sick.  And yet I'm the only one who goes through three boxes of tissue a day and spends all night hacking and blowing my nose.

Oh yeah, and I've lost my voice.  Makes it hard to yell at the kids.  I have to clap or click at them.  Much less effective.

But anyway, I've spent pretty much all day napping and this last five minutes of being awake has really tired me out.  So I'm just going to leave you with this and say goodnight.


You're welcome.

Japan to the U.S. and Back: A Trip by the Numbers

Now let's review:

We flew between Misawa Japan and Seattle Washington.  That's 13,035 miles or 11,327 nautical miles--2x.  (26,070 total) 8 hours there, 10.5 hours back.

We drove through 3 states.  (And about a million cities)
In 1 week we drove from Seattle to Albany to Fairfield to Salinas to San Luis Obispo to Carlsbad where we stayed for 5 days.

We saw many friends, 3 grandpas, 3 grandmas, 4 aunts, 2 uncles, and 8 cousins.

Then drove from Carlsbad to Fairfield to Albany to Seattle where we flew back to Misawa on October 31st.

We were gone for 2 weeks and drove somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,299 miles 2x.
With 4 kids... 3 rowdy boys and 1 tiny baby!

Doug visited/ate lunch with/interviewed with/met with/chatted up 10 dentists/dental practices.

Emily bought 4 sweaters, 4 shirts, 2 skirts, 1 dress, 3 pairs of shoes, (returned 2 pairs of jeans) and 1 super cute purse.  (You can't blame me.  At 5 feet 9.75 inches, I'm WAY too amazonian to shop here.)

We came home with 2 more duffle bags than we brought, 4 spoiled kids, 16 new nervous ticks and some excellent job possibilities and prospects to pursue.

All in all, we have 1 happy, if slightly crazier, family.
I suppose that means it was worth it!

Nov 13, 2010

Dear Tami; Please Don't Hate Me!

This is Gabey's girlfriend Madeleine with her daddy--Doug's boyfriend Wes.  

Her mommy is my girlfriend Tami.

This is what Madeleine did to her hair while she was at my house:
This is the third time she's cut her hair at my house.

Third time.

It's amazing that we're all still friends.

(We're still friends, right Tami?
Hello...Tami...?)

Nov 12, 2010

Reason #342 to live in C-bad

The kids had so much fun at the beach. Sam, for some odd reason, dug a hole and stuck his head in it. Then his echopraxic brother Gabe decided he wanted a hole dug for his head too. When they went to the beach with Doug the next day, Gabe immediately asked for a hole for his head. Why are they so weird?


That night, or the night before, I stayed late with my sister and Mom while Doug went back to the hotel to hang with his family. All they did was sit around and watch/listen to youtube videos. Here are a few of the favorites:












And this last one is Doug's sister Kris, who is one of the Time Out For Women speakers. A funny lady who got her humor from my husband. She is also the author of Hard Times and Holy Places, an excellent read, especially for someone experiencing overwhelming trials in their life.



*Blog by Doug