Thursday, November 27, 2014

day 1. HAKONE

Kent started his paternity leave (another air force bonus!) last week and my parents came to Japan to visit!  It was a stupendous week.  

we did SO MUCH in the 7 days my parents were here!! 

this post is only DAY 1 of my parents' visit and I've got 40+ pictures!!  

We drove up into a volcano for a couple of days and had so much fun!  the fall weather and colors were perfect.  We stayed in the fuji-hakon-izu national park at an authentic Japanese Ryokan hotel and ate at hole in the wall authentic japanese restaurants.

Hakone is an active volcanic area in the region of Mt. Fuji.  Japan - especially this area-is well known for their onsens.  An Onsen is a public bath- sometimes man made and sometimes completely natural.  The Japanese love their onsens.  They make me terribly nervous :)   Kent thinks they are relaxing.  I don't like hot water or being naked in public so they aren't really my thing.

We checked into our hotel and walked down to Lake Ashi- which is actually a caldera from an exploded volcano!  pretty cool, huh?  

At the caldera- we caught a ropeway car and went up onto an active volcano!!  
Japan never ceases to amaze me.  there is so much to do.and it's always stunning.

check out the views from our ropeway car!  it was unreal.
up at the top- the volcano is spurting out lots of hot water and stinky sulfur gas!  and the mountainside is pretty barren besides a few plants adapted to live in the extreme conditions.

we also found WASABI ice cream on top!  here's my mom trying to convince the kiddos it's really tasty.
it was absolutely horrendous.  one of the worst things I've ever tasted.  cold ice cream with a hot flavor.  SO SO nasty.
Although metta took a couple of licks before she decided she didn't like it.  She's so weird.
we hiked up the volcano further to get the lucky 'black eggs' to lengthen our lives by 7 years!  they are boiled in the volcano water and turn black because of the sulfur!

we bought a bagful and ate them all!

the boys loved peeling them- but not eating them!

this sign about the 'kuro-tamago' (black egg) kills me.  I LOVE their translations.  
it really was pretty stinky up there!

here's a fresh batch of black eggs.  they were really hot!  
photo op with the black egg hello kitty!

 it was a really fun experience!  definitely worth the trip up!

we took the ropeway car back down the volcano into the giant caldera lake Ashi and rode a pirate ship around it!

how cool is that?!?

the views were all perfect.  
 tori gates in the water!

when we got off- metta begged to get back on.  thumbs up from her!!

 I'm never afraid of heights or water until I'm around them with my kiddos!  and then I keep imagining them plummeting overboard.

 mack was a champ all day.  just hung out and slept.
 after the pirate ship we found the last open place to eat in all of hakone!  apparently everywhere closes at 5:00!?   luckily we found the most delicious place.  kent and my mom had terrible sashimi.  blegh.

but my dad and I had delicious curry with katsu pork.  definitely one of my favorite japanese foods!

our hotel was within walking distance of all of these places!  after dinner we walked back and checked out our japanese sleeping arrangements!
we had japanese robes to wear! and ate on the floor!
this place was the real deal!  we slept on futon mats! 
AND the hotel had it's OWN onsen!  eek.  Kent really wanted to go.  I was hesitant.  and then it turns out that our room got a private 40 minute session in the outdoor sulfur hot spring onsen! and my parents were there to watch our kiddos!

so- kent and I went!  I think it's the only way I'll do the whole onsen thing.

here's a picure of our bath.  It was really cold out that night and perfect to soak in the hot spring.

I love japanese posters!
here I am before getting in.  I was a little nervous.

and after.
this was their public bath upstairs.  You have to sit naked on the little stools and scrub your body thoroughly before you can bathe!

the next morning - continental breakfast was included!  it was CRAZY.  japanese breakfasts are so so different from anything americans would eat!  I actually got a little nauseous! and food never makes me nauseous!

 I don't even know what more than half of it was!

luckily- the japanese vending machines came to the rescue!  I got hot chocolate!  the vending machines have hot and cold drinks!

the vending machines are EVERYwhere.  this one had french fries and other fried items.  so weird.

 lots more to come!!

the turkey

almost six weeks and he's a turkey.  which is pretty fitting for thanksgiving.

I've neglected blogging about this kid and documenting his life! mostly because he's #4. and life is busy :) but i'm going to get in an update and a few pictures of him before I blog my parents visit or I won't get around to it,

Mack is a pretty decent baby.  I have my complaints- but he's better than metta was at this age!

he's the world's WORST eater.  it takes him forever to eat.  it's like he can't figure it out.  Even as a brand new baby I noticed he was a little different.  All of my other kiddos have 'rooted' like crazy those first few days- but this kid just sits there and acts hungry but doesn't realize he needs to suck to eat.  it's especially aggravating at night.  He eventually gets the hang of sucking- and will eat plenty.  It's just so long and drawn out.

he has his grumpy hour or two in the evening and has a little bit of reflux- but we can usually get him calm and comfortable.

otherwise he is totally chill.  he sleeps moderately well. likes to stare. wiggles about.  he's gaining weight and just grew out of his newborn diapers and clothes.

he's for sure got blueish eyes and that freaks us out.  He's going to stick out like a sore thumb!!
 I think he'll be smiling in the next couple of weeks!  honestly- he just likes to sit and stare,
he still has a little cross eye when he looks at us!  kent promises me it's normal!
I can't wait for him to get a little older!  that fabulous smiley phase when they can't move yet :)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

white cloud mountain

my goodness- I'm a few weeks behind!  I'll do my best to catch up this week!  My parents left today - but kent still has a couple of days of paternity left and then we have the four days off for Thanksgiving!  hopefully we'll have some nice time to just sit and relax.  and blog.

two weeks ago- we went up into our favorite mountains to catch the fall colors!  fall here is different than back home (utah or ohio).  it lasts longer and is stretched out for months.  the trees all seem to peak at different times- so while the colors may not be as widespread or vibrant- we get to enjoy them for a looooong time!  and autumn is my very favorite season- so I love it.

We went to white cloud mountain and did a great hike dotted with shrines!  it was AMAZING.  we had the perfect weather and the views were gorgeous.

we drove up and up and suddenly came to a mountain covered in beautiful buildings.  
it really was such a stunning sight,
our kids were really good and loved the hike.   mack sat in the baby bjorn and was a pro.  this is the one part of my newborns that I love.  they don't do much and usually are content to be squished into a carrier and come along with us.
I am beginning to love the smell of incense burning all over Japan!!

before moving here - I had no idea Japan was so mountainous!  

this guy is at almost every shrine we visit.  We really need to figure out who he is and what he's doing!

Ike had three purple spots on his forehead from a stamp at school and the Japanese all over the mountain were intrigued by them!  everybody stopped and pointed and giggled.  Ike is a weirdo!

I'm just starting to get a hang of the fact that I have such a big family now.  I feel like adding a 4th kiddo has turned us into a bit of a circus, EVERYwhere we go the Japanese stop and stare and count my kiddos and then jabber to us!  all while holding up four fingers with looks of amazement.  or maybe it's a look of concern!

we got to climb to the head of this giant statue and look out over the mountain.
it's a fairly small lookout on top- and the tairway upa dn down is spiral and narrow!  I don't think there's a limit of people allowed in the statue because once we got to the top- ten more people piled onto the platform and squished us tight!   it was fun :)

after our hike- we went across the street to this american camp ground that was hilarious!  the sign behind metta says: "welcome to camping".  they had santa claus everywhere and ritz crackers for sale.  and a bunch of japanese families camping in tents in parking spots on the asphalt!!  I love this country.
mr mack finally woke up for a bite to eat- and then crashed again when we drove home!

here's another santa and christmas display.  
I'm excited to look through my pictures from our adventures last week and get blogging!