Monday, September 29, 2014

weekends and COSTCO!!!!

Parenting is tough beans.  definitely the hardest thing I do.  and I feel like I've had a rough couple of parenting days.

Zeb told Kent that I try to starve them while he's at work!  ha!  that one made me laugh out loud.  he's also REALLY good at finding any contradictions in the things I say or do.  It's terribly obnoxious and I have to remind him regularly that I'm the adult :)  He actually told Kent and me that we are training him to be mean to his kids!!  I told him he was right!!  that's EXACTLY what we are doing!  and Ike is a rascal in his own right.  He's our defiant kid.  Just says 'no' when we ask him to do anything he doesn't feel like doing.  even simple things like:"you need to eat breakfast before school".  it's beyond aggravating.  although - I still prefer the mouthy bratty kids to a newborn screaming and keeping me up all night!!  have I mentioned that's coming in three weeks?!  EEEk.  maybe that's why parenting is getting to me this week.  I'm a little anxious.

Luckily metta has been pretty great lately. she doesn't point out my weaknesses quite yet!!  She potty trained herself completely.  I can't believe how easy she was.  and how she'll even keep herself dry at night now.  she's a toilet champ. It was all in a matter of two days. I was keeping her in diapers and pull ups when we went out and about because of the japanese hole toilets and just being busy- but she's totally fine.  no accidents!!

so- this weekend- we went shrine and park hunting.  We found this fabulous shrine super close to base!  we'd passed it weeks ago and finally made the time to go back.  it was huge. and lots more amazing than we could see from the road! We are trying to understand the culture and religious aspects of the shrines here - but there's a lot we still don't get!  I'm always worried about the kids running around and being inappropriate- but there are usually Japanese kids running around doing the same things as our kids so it isn't too bad!!
 this shrine had HUGE LONG dragons winding all over the staircases and the buildings.  the kids really loved them!  Japanese art and style is so unique and so amazing to look at!  and their architecture always includes LOTS of stairs.  which I love.  tires out the kids and keeps us moving.
I LOVE the colors in their buildings.  they are so visually stimulating!  this giant orange pagoda was stunning.

we never really know what all of the statues and idols at all of the shrines are.  This shrine had a huge mountainside covered in miniature statues.  and the people cover them with toys and trinkets and fruits and tea.  We don't know if they are dedicated to the statues- or in memoriam of people.  and the Japanese really truly do LOVE little character and cartoons and anime.  they are EVERYwhere.

here is the huge hillside covered in statues.  
some of them had bibs and raincoats on them!  there were race cars and stuffed animals.  and flowers and food.  

I took a picture of this sign because Kent could read (at least part of) it.  It says something about 'hand wash and toilet exist to the right'.  At least that's what I think he said.  Kent is pretty amazing with these kanji.  Every time we go out- he astounds me.
oh- and speaking of Kent.  He's got his pediatric boards a week from today!  so send out some prayers for him.  I know he'll do fine!  but I think he's a little stressed :)

there was an entire complex of buildings here.  We don't really understand the significance of each building.  some are obviously dedicated to different Gods or entities- but we don't really know why or who.

The colored dragons are so amazing.  I'm really learning to love the Asian flair to things and can't wait to buy some great stuff for our house!!

I definitely want a giant buddha belly in our house.

 check out this building!!

zeb and ike under a dragon!

One large main building had a ceremony going on inside.  there were people chanting on the loudpeakers and the gongs were being gonged (is that a word??!).  People walk around the big building and roll their hands along these metal turning lanterns.  Other kids and families were doing it- so we gave it a try, too.

fall is just starting here and I couldn't be happier.  the humidity is almost gone and the air is crisper and cooler.  I can't wait for the leaves to change colors! and we lucked out with such a cool weekend on the volcano eruption day!  we had shut down our A/C units to prevent ash getting sucked in!  we didn't really even get anything. I was kind of hoping for a snow fall of ash but the winds died down and the ash didn't ever accumulate here!  the volcano that erupted  was a couple hundred kilometers away,


after our long day- we celebrated a little more of our ten year anniversary with putting the kids to bed, some takeout from "taj mahal" a new delicious indian restaurant we found with the world's friendliest owner who gave us all free "mango lassy", and a viewing of the latest episode of project runway.  even with crazy kids and hard parenting weeks- I'm happy to be married to kent!

and I totally forgot about all of these pictures from last weekend!   we made our first trip to COSTCO  when kent was on call.  I think it will be our 'call weekend' tradition.  Kent can't go further than 20 minutes from base- so costco is just about the exact distance. and it was so welcoming!  I felt like I was wandering the aisles in Utah with my family! it's the very same costco as in America!

well- except for the octopus:

oh, and the american ice cream is 17 dollars :)

and the pizza is covered in shrimp.

they do have LOTS of samples, though :)  we even ended up buying these udon nooodles!

but check out the line for the dessert samples!  and you thought the sample lines in Utah County were bad!! but the japanese people wait so politely in these long lines for their free taste :)
But, seriously- the store is very comforting and feels so familiar!

and lunch was lovely!!

the coolest part is the grocery cart escalator walkways.  They have them at ikea, too.  they are ramps to and from the parking garages that fit the grooves of the cart wheels so you don't fly down them!

 hooray for costco!! and their free samples.  and pizza and hot dogs.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

happy anniversary

Ten Years!!
we made it to the big 1-0.  and honestly, I can tell you it's been lovely! 
stellar. fabulous. fun. exciting.  and all around wonderful.
I can truly say that marriage is the most wonderful thing to ever happen to me.  and I've had lots of wonderful things happen :)
  Kent and I met in high school anatomy and physiology and became best friends almost instantly.   
After several years apart in college and on missions- we decided we wanted to be 'more than friends' and were married within a couple of months.

I'm the luckiest girl in the world to have found somebody so amazing as Kent.  
We are as opposite as can be and compliment each other perfectly.  
Had we looked forward ten years from the day we were married to today- I'd have to say we are exactly where we would have hoped!  we are so blessed.
every day has been an adventure and I haven't been disappointed yet :)

to commemorate ten years we decided to put our marriage to the ultimate test and see if we were willing to try for another ten:
So... we packed up our house and moved around the world to an opposite time zone with three young kids, a pregnant leisy, and kent preparing for one of the biggest exams of his life.  and just for good measure we bought four semi large pieces of Ikea furniture to put together as a couple!

and we made it.  without a single marital hitch.  no yelling about nails or screws.   no freak outs when we were up in the middle of the night with three kids.  no hormonal breakdowns from leisy.  We'll see if kent passes boards in a few weeks (I'm not worried!), and we'll let you know about kid #4 shortly after that.  But, so far- we are looking good.  I think we'll stick with it for another ten.

We've also been celebrating all day!
we went to a very fancy childless lunch at this super fun french restaurant called St. Marcs.

I only got pics of some of the food- not us!  but the food was divine.

and the most amazing part of the entire meal was the bread.  I LITERALLY ate 12 rolls! the servers walk around the entire meal with baskets full of steaming hot fresh french rolls and breads.  and they are ALL different.  here are just three of the many.  I could have stayed another hour just to eat more carbs :)  the croissants were the softest and flakiest and freshest I've ever tasted.  I want to go back.

we've spent our evening trying out new flavors of kit kats.  we celebrate big :)   pumpkin and strawberry were on the menu.  I preferred the pumpkin.  Japan seriously never disappoints.  Ever day is an adventure!

Really- being married makes me the happiest girl in the world.   I can't wait to see what our next ten years will bring.  

муж-  тебя люблю!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

the day they called me a sumo wrestler!

 this evening we had a cultural night at our church!  the Japanese congregation came and had a wonderful evening for the English congregation.  It was so much fun!  they fed us, did cooking demos, dressed us up, did our hair!, and took our pictures.  Japanese people are the kindest most respectful people you'll ever meet.  And although I may not love all of their food- their kitchen skills are beyond impressive.

They LOVE to make fancy lunches for their kiddos.  Apparently there are thousands of Pinterest boards dedicated to creative Japanese bento boxes.  and they do stuff like this for their kids REGULARLY!!  it's a good thing I'm not a Japanese mom.

The Japanese women made all of us Bento boxes with a fabulous dinner.   They love to put eggs with their sushi and rice and I LOVE it.  finally something I love!!  Somehow everything they put on their rice is sweet- including the scrambled eggs.  I didn't do well with the fish cake wrapped cucumbers- but I loved everything else!  
they sat us down after eating and did all of our hair and prepped us all to take pictures with traditional Japanese dress.  It was lovely.   and I've really got to learn how to french braid!   
Japanese people are rather petite and to stuff me into one of these Kimonos was probably no small feat.  When I asked the woman who was wrapping me up if I'd fit- she responded: "kimonos fit every size.  You are like a sumo wrestler and we will fit you".  I almost died.  I was laughing so hard.  I'm just going to assume that being called a sumo wrestler is a grand compliment in Japan :)
But really- it was pretty fun tot get dressed up and get our hair done by somebody.  These outfits also enforce fabulous posture!  
this is the closest thing to a maternity photo shoot you'll ever get of me :)  This is my other red headed pregnant pal here in Japan.  we got sausaged in these things pretty tight!
our night really was a blast!  next month we are hosting a big American Thanksgiving dinner for the Japanese women and I think we should do a photo shoot of cowboys and pilgrims and indians for them!

Friday, September 19, 2014

busy and happy

I've got a gazillion posts in the the making- but life has taken over!  I think it officially means we live here :)  This past saturday we had some grand plans- and then routine errands took over and before we knew it- the day was done with no big adventures!  it was a really lovely weekend, however,

Although last week I had far too many run ins with base security forces.  SF are the base 'police'.   It was a rough week.

I got pulled over after the base friendship festival fireworks for 'rolling through a stop sign'.  I would have accepted the fact that it was true IF I had not been in a line of HUNDREDS of cars who ALSO rolled through the stop.  It was ridiculous.  I actually asked the officer if ANY of the cars had stopped completely!  he told me: "It doesn't matter what anybody else did ma'am, only you".  I guess that's an important life lesson.  I'm pretty sure I was just the unlucky driver to get stopped for a random DUI check.  When he saw I was overly pregnant and had three kids - he didn't even ask about alcohol.  He just ticketed me for the non stop'.  I told him it wasn't very nice to pull over moms and their kids coming home from the fireworks!   I was pretty bugged. and then I found out tickets don't cost anything on base and they don't affect your insurance at all!  ha! give me a ticket :)  they do accrue points and I could lose my license if I roll through 3 more stops in the next 12 months.  I plan on stopping for a full three seconds from here on out :) oh- and Kent had to report the ticket to his commander! luckily- he was working the med tent at the festival and was standing next to his commander when I texted him about the whole debacle.  He just told him about it and they laughed.

Then thursday evening- coming home from Japanese class at our church- I got my military ID confiscated at the base gates as I was trying to get back on!  luckily Kent was with me.  Apparently it was expired!  I blame this on the parasite sucking my brain's blood flow!  getting a new ID isn't that big of a deal- besides the fact that Kent HAD to accompany me.  and their hours of operation are form 9-1.  kent is ALWAYS working from 9-1. we finally got it taken care of.

I also had to go to Fussa city hall this week to get temporary plates for our car so we could renew JCI (japanese compulsory insurance) and that was another adventure.  Luckily Japanese government offices seem to run A LOT smoother and faster than American ones!

all of the pictures in this post are just a smattering from our last two weeks!

The Japanese LOVE vending machines.  You order meals at vending machines and buy just about anything!  and they are EVERYwhere.

We got 50yen ice cream cones at Ikea last week :)

Kent and I both had long days at work yesterday so we rewarded ourselves with dinner out.  We went to the Seiyu (walmart) and tried out one of the top floor restaurants.   Almost every large store here has their top floor dedicated to restaurants!  even walmart!  we got takeout from an Indian place- and while we were waiting- checked out the toy vending machines!  Ike is obsessed with finding and saving yen (or any money for that matter).  His pockets are packed full of coins at all times.  He's a little thief when it comes to money- so we have to be careful not leave any sitting out!
He had enough change to get pokemon keychains for himself and his siblings.  They were all really excited about it!
another really fabulous aspect of Japan is their obsession with eating out.  they LOVE to eat out. and almost every restaurant you go to has FULL food displays of the menu. If there isn't a display- there is at least a full picture menu.  It's CRAZY. and so helpful to us as Americans :)  

Our butter chicken, saag paneer, and cheese naan was beyond delicious.
Kent convinced me to love indian food- so hopefully he can help me with Japanese food!  

parking and driving in Japan is pretty crazy.  usually when we go out- we park in tall parking structures and Metta LOVES them.  It must be a genetic thing passed down from her Nannie Annie- but when we go up and down the big ramps- she puts her hands up in the air and yells "weeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!".  
with Zeb and Ike in school- Metta and I get to spend a lot of quality time together.  And she is a really good kid.  Different stores have different sale days so we usually go to a few stores a week, hit library story time, go to the commissary,  and run or workout!

Here she is at the fish sale!  the 'daiei' usually has all of their fruits and veggies and fish priced at 88 yen on thursdays!  that's an AMAZING price on apples and small pineapples and peppers- so we usually come here!  we only take pictures of the fish :)
this is a picture metta took of me at bootcamp class last week.  It's cute, I know.  I teach bootcamp once a week at our church building!  I love group exercise and I love teaching so I'm really glad for the opportunity to do it!  plus- we meet on the top (3rd) floor so we always get to run stairs as part of the class- and I LOVE running stairs :)
I also found a cardio/strength class once a week here on base that is 'child friendly' as long as your kid is well behaved! metta sits, munches on fruit snacks, and plays with my phone while I work out! I'm luckily she's so great.  so I get to do two classes a week.  the other days I just run,
 the weather has been FABULOUS lately so I have been able to run outside!!  and I splurged on an amazon lighting deal a few months ago and bought a double BOB running stroller.  It's amazing.  but running is getting TOUGH.  that's the ONE reason I can't wait to get this baby OUT of me.  I am SO EXCITED to run like a normal person again!!  running with two kids in the stroller has got to be easier than running with one in the stroller and one in utero.   Although there is nothing in this world like running preggo that can show me how weak I am and how strong I am all at the same time!
only 4 more weeks to go.  it's gone WAY too fast.  this pregnancy has been my easiest so far I think.  Kent says I say that every time, though.  

36 weeks was a big milestone for me.  If I had gone into labor any earlier than now- I would have delivered at a Japanese hospital and may have NOT gotten an epidural.  that is the ONLY thing in my birth plan.  GET THE EPIDURAL.  now it's almost a for sure thing.  I can breathe much easier.

oh- and just for fun- this last picture of metta. She was SOBBING because she found out that her brothers got TWO suckers a piece when we got the flu vaccine.  She only got one.  and was SO MAD.  she's spoiled.

Last year getting the flu shot was the SINGLE WORST parenting moment of my life.  My children turned into wildebeasts. They were literally transformed into Tasmanian Devils or Honey Badgers or something.  It was as though they had all become possessed. they screamed and kicked and fought and spit and wailed.  I am NOT exaggerating. You'd have thought we were trying to kill them.
  so this year- kent found out the moment the flu MIST came in.  he texted me from work and I had the kids at the immunization clinic in less than ten minutes.  we were in and out with NO tears (until the sucker thing!). 

life is good.  the weather is lovely.   I texted kent at work today to ask how he was doing.  He replied: "I'm busy. But I'm happy".   we are finding our place here and it's working out nicely. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014


There's a hotel called the 'New Sanno' in downtown Tokyo that is strictly military.  It's pretty fancy and perfectly situated for seeing the city! Plus- it's crazy cheap for being in Tokyo!  The labor day weekend was totally booked for months I'm sure- but I called every day- several times a day- for a few days leading up to the dates and got a last minute cancelled room!  

All of our household goods showed up thursday- and we left friday morning!  downtown is only 20 something miles from here- but the drove usually takes 45 minutes to 2 hrs.  Driving into tokyo was a little intimidating- but we made it.

I think this is the only pic I got of The New Sanno.  It really is fancy pants.  and so fun!  it's located directly next to the French Embassy in Japan and therefore is also surrounded by fabulous French bakeries.  
From our room window we could see the Tokyo Tower and the LDS temple!  perfect view for us.
We got there in time for lunch and made our way out to explore!  I opted for lunch at the french bakery.  
they boys went for McDonalds.  I'm going to have to say that McDonalds has already proven to be a lifesaver here.  I'm sorry if it's offensive to you- but sometimes the only thing you can get your kids to eat on the streets of Tokyo is a chicken nugget :)
Kent- on the other hand- is set on trying every strange menu item they've got.  This trip he had the teriyaki burger and the filet-o ebi.  Shrimp burger.  blegh.  It was SO GROSS.

can you see their little pink bodies?  Shrimp is one of those things I can't even put in my mouth. I'll eat fish- and try some weird things- but biting into those little crustacean springy bodies makes me dry heave.
they've also got ice cream cones and mcchicken on the 100Yen menu.  Zeb says the mayonnaise is better here :)
Right near the bakery and mcdonalds is a beautiful Japanese Garden.  We had some bread slices with us from the bakery and decided to give the birds a few pieces.  BAD IDEA.  they saw our kiddos as an opportunity and ATTACKED.  we ran out of the park with Zeb and metta in tears and me laughing so hard I could barely run.
I would have gotten more pictures- but the birds got CRAZY after this and were jumping all over the kids.    Here is metta just after a bird jumped on her lap and grabber her bread.

I did get one happy pic before the killer bird attack.
directly across from the garden is the Tokyo Temple!(you can click on the link to read about LDS temples).  It was great to walk around and see the area with the kiddos.
I love that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the same where ever we go.  It's pretty comforting.

we took out our double stroller for our first excursion- but quickly realized it was only going to be a hassle!  we took it back and made the kids walk all weekend and they did a pretty great job.
even the man hole covers in japan are amazing :)
we took the subway a few stops over to see Tokyo tower that afternoon.  Zeb and Ike have been pretty excited about coming here.  They've seen it on Cars 2- and a Mater's Tall Tales and wanted to see the real deal.  

the views of Tokyo are expansive. Japan is packed in SO TIGHT everywhere.  Only 30% of the country is actually inhabitable so the habitable areas are packed in.  
we spent quite awhile up in the tower letting the kids run around check out every view they could.

they also had fun with this robot who moved around and followed them.  

we made all sorts of people nervous at the glass bottom windows.  I am not afraid of heights- especially when they are completely enclosed and totally safe.  Several people were not so relaxed :)
all of our kids loved it!

On the way home we stopped to grab some dinner for Kent and me at a popular curry place.

I had to take a picture of the menu because it was in Japanese, English, Portuguese and Russian!  all of our languages.

I got the egg and mixed vegetable curry.  I was surprised at how delicious it was!  I was pretty famished from all of the walking!

we got the kids pizza at the hotel :) and then went for a swim at the pool.  It was super kid friendly with an entire section just  couple of feet deep.  Japan- and much of the military- is so kid friendly.  It makes our lives much more enjoyable!

cartoons in the hotel bed.

The metro and train system in Tokyo isn't nearly as overwhelming as I'd heard it was!  It runs the same way as any major metro I'm sure- but was so similar to Moscow that the smells and sounds were welcoming :)  
the signs here still crack us up.  they are so dramatic and well animated :)

we think this about giving up your seat for the elderly.  But we are unsure about the pile of wool the sheep left behind.

and this one is to terrify you about the dangers of standing too close to the track?!?

The trains are always exciting for the kiddos- so it was pretty easy.  A few of our rides got pretty crowded- but that only made it more fun.

 we went a couple of stops to Shibuya crossing to be a part of the world famous 'scramble'.  All lights turn red for traffic and pedestrians are allowed to inundate the road!  It's pretty insane and wild to be a part of.  Especially with three littles.  I wanted more pictures- but didn't want to lose a child, either!  we need to go back at night with NO kids :)
 There's a great park nearby- but it's been partially closed due to an outbreak of  Dengue Fever!  the mosquitoes are spreading it and there have been lots of confirmed cases.  We are still fresh sweet foreign meat and are currently COVERED in bites- so we thought it best to avoid the park during mosquito season!

We made our way up to a giant children's museum and let the kiddos play for several hours.  It ended up raining and was the perfect time to be there!
they got to add to a giant piece of artwork out front.
 and inside had all sorts of fun.  there was so much to do!

a giant wall mural where you could add your art!
 a huge playland.
 building station.
 metta loves playing with all of the little Japanese kids.  I've had to learn how to say "excuse me!" and "I'm sorry" when she does something unruly! I also always know their response: "daijoba des"-which means "it's okay! don't worry!". The Japanese really are so polite and understanding of children.  I can't tell you how many Japanese kiddos I've seen throwing tantrums on the grocery store floor or in a parking lot.  It makes me feel so normal.
this fun game had the boys in laughing fits forever.  It's little people magnet soccer.

Our little metta is OBSESSED with families.  seriously.   everything she sees becomes a family.  animals, toys, cars, fruit, WHATEVER!  just today at church she told me all about the 'mama, daddy, and baby' buttons on my cardigan.

 once the rain cleared- we rode bikes on the roof!  they had plasma cars, trikes, and strange bikes all over the different levels of the roof.

 the music room was also a hit.

 Our final stop of the day was Harajuku station!  to see the crowds and some of the crazy culture of Japan!  we'll have to take any visitors here.  It's chaotic. and really fun.

 this candy store- 'candy a go go' was perfect!

 once we got onto some of the side streets and the crowds thinned out- metta wanted some independence from our arms.  She wouldn't walk any closer than ten feet to us.  the Japanese love her.

The drive home was peaceful and quiet.  we were all exhausted.  I am LOVING having weekends with Kent.  I feel like we can do SO MUCH!  it's been the most splendid change from the hours of residency to this!  He's still busy and working like crazy- but I feel like his schedule is at least semi predictable. and that makes a world of difference.

We can't wait to see and do everything here!   I'm starting to worry that three years won't be enough!!