Sunday, August 24, 2014


Japan is exhausting!  at the end of the day yesterday I collapsed onto the couch in pile of tiredness.
we had a plethora of adventures this week to say goodbye to summer.
swimming, some back to school shopping, adventurous eating, and a whole lot of hiking and climbing!

Yesterday we visited the Mt. Mitake Shrine.  It's way up in the mountains so high and steep that the best way up is via cable car.

You get up to the top and there's an entire small town.  It was pretty crazy.  there are houses- and what looked like a school- and normal people living their lives on a beautiful mount side full of tourists there to visit the 2000 yer old shrine.

From the cable car exit- it's a decent hike STRAIGHT up the mountain!  really- some spots were so so steep.  and we must have climbed hundreds of stairs.  I was so impressed with the elderly Japanese making the trek up. It wasn't terribly long- but it wasn't all that easy, either!  Especially with a toddler on kent's back, me at 33 weeks preggo, and two whiny rugrats slowing us down!! It took just over an hour for us with our frequent stops for short little weary legs.
there are little shops and whatnot along the way where we could stop and let zeb and Ike rest their legs.  Zeb said his legs had NEVER been so tired.  sometimes he gets rather dramatic.
Ike is an avid rock hoarder and filled his pockets all day long.  He also never looked at the camera.

somehow I missed getting a picture of the final ascent staircase with HUNDREDS of stairs.  I think I was too focused on getting UP them. Here's one pic I snapped of a gargoyle peaking out as a guard. 

The Shrine at the top was worth the effort.  It was pretty amazing.  and said to be one of the most spiritual spots in this region of Japan!

on the shrine grounds- there are several other smaller shrines.
  they are each guarded by a different animal.

all of the Japanese loved metta in her little backpack carrier!  she waved and said hello to everybody.  she really is a hit with her red hair and constant smile.  I was reprimanded by one older gentleman for hiking while pregnant.  At least that's what I thought it was all about.  He pointed to my abdomen several times with a look of concern and jabbered something that sounded worried!

I loved this dragon painting.  

it was a really hot day- 90+ degrees with humidity- but up in the mountains was MUCH cooler.  it was still plenty humid and we were drenched in sweat by the end of our hikes.

these pictures don't even come close to portraying the incline of these hills!  it was really really steep a lot of the way!

 after our trek up to the shrine- we decided to make the day super authentic and eat the traditional Japanese mountainside food.   I think if I liked fish- this fish on a stick would be a favorite of mine.  Too bad I don't love fish.
 this treat actually looked really good to us!  Even Zeb wanted to try it.  we still aren't sure what it is.
and it was NOTHING like we expected.  It was salty and savory.  Chewy and rough on the cooked edges- and stretchy and mushy on the inside.  that's a terrible explanation- but it's like NOTHING I've ever tasted.

Kent was a good sport with the fish on a stick and ate it almost entirely.  he did pick out what looked to be a liver and a heart. 

I tasted it.  and that was enough for me.
 Metta was totally grossed out.
 Besides visiting the shrine- we did some other hiking and adventuring on the mountain.
 you can't see much in the pictures because of the hazy humidity- but tokyo is off in the distance!  the area reminded us a lot of the great smoky mountains in Tennessee.

there is an area with several really large old trees that are also spiritually significant to the Japanese.  they tie these prayers/messages around them.

 we even had a little ski life ride up a mountainside.  there weren't any rails and the seats were single- so I held metta while Kent took Ike and Zeb went all by himself!

By late afternoon I was STARVING for real food and we were all hot and sweaty so we stopped off at the Ome river to get a bit wet and grab a snack.

the water felt great,

 but the food did not satisfy.  One thing I can't really get the hang of is HOT food and soup in the SWELTERING summer.  We ordered some soba noodles (like ramen) and this lovely dish.  I seriously couldn't put it in my mouth.  It was so unappetizing to me.  kent ate it to make me feel better that we spent money on it :)  It was warm semi gelatinous fermented soybean paste traingles with sauce.

 I had some noodles- but was too hot to be enjoying steamy noodles and broth.  at this point I just wanted cold water and something refreshing!  I was so glad to be headed home to a fridge stocked with  food from an American grocery store!  I am so grateful for the benefit of living on base!  we get the best of both worlds!! I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich as soon as we got home!

Overall it was definitely an adventurous day trip and I really want to go back in the fall!!  It is supposed to be gorgeous!!  I love being here and having these adventures.  I also LOVE that kent finally lives a life where a weekend is a BREAK from work!!   It's so weird to me that we wake up on saturday and sunday mornings and always have him home!!!

Sunday, August 17, 2014


this week has finally felt 'normal'.  I'm not sure if that's great, though- because it didn't feel like vacation anymore ;)  I think the biggest factor in the week was that Kent was on call for 7 days.  He'll be taking a week long call once every 3 weeks and he can't be more than 20 minutes from the hospital in case he has to go in. It precluded us from doing any grand adventuring far away.
  He has semi normal clinic hours but then has the pager for the rest of the time at home.  He has to go in for urgent care visits where they want a pediatric consult or for any/all deliveries.  I think he had to get up for a couple of hours during the night 3 or 4 times this week to run over.

It also rained about half the week and we spent more time indoors.

For playgroup we went to a crazy mall playland.  These kids are having so much fun being kids and acting like wild animals on toys that would be illegal stateside!!  I'm impressed with how much fun the japanese have- but also with how well behaved they are.  I have a lot to learn from the Japanese!

all of these strange balls are connected to big 'trees' that rotate and swing.

Here's Ike after he plummeted off one of the hanging/swinging/rotating giant balls.  They played SO HARD.
 Metta just took off when we arrived.  She is such a social happy kid.
 this giant wheel was a hamster ball that turned automatically.  It was pretty slow but the kids love it!

 there's also a giant bouncy room filled with balloons and a huge fan to blow the balloons all about.  Metta was in heaven.
 this contraption was a giant corkscrew that just turned and turned.  and the kiddos climbed and fell and twisted upside down and laughed.

 The Japanese LOVE their shopping malls!  the food courts are astounding.  there are hundreds of fun strollers with thomas, minnie mouse, and hello kitty adorning them all.  Metta wanted to try every last one!
 This week we also went to a neighbors birthday party at the Natatorium on base.  It's a free pool a couple blocks from our house.  And for birthday parties you can rent these GIANT water obstacle courses!  It was pretty fabulous.

Otherwise- we had a pretty mellow but great week.  A domino's pizza opened up 1/4 mile from our place! we went on the 2nd day it opened.  It was delicious.  

Zeb spotted this store on our way home from the mall. He was laughing SO hard when he read it.  We still can't figure out what the name could possibly mean!!  any ideas?!  Hair Bum's a bet??
Metta still craves the binky during the day around nap time and this is her face every time I tell her 'no'.  

today at church I discovered THIS under her dress.  4 pair of angry birds undies over her diaper.  
we are talking all about potty training- but haven't started yet because her baby toilet has yet to arrive! I guess she's pretty excited.

Speaking of our stuff- we got word it's going to be late. It was supposed to arrive august 25. now it's pushed back a couple or so more weeks. and honestly- I am TOTALLY fine with that.  I really am almost perfectly happy as we are now.  I REALLY miss our beaters, our vacuum, and kitchenware- but otherwise we are all perfectly content.  the boys will definitely need a pair of new shoes for school (they each only have 2 right now!  flip flops and keens) and kent could really use some more church clothes! but that's about it.  

Yesterday there were lots more planes on my run!  this picture can't do justice to the enormity and closeness and deafening loudness of these planes!  it's astounding.

It's our last week of summer before school begins- so I am hoping for some grand adventures this week!!

and I just HAVE to add these pictures of metta.  she's so pleasant and happy and fun to be around.

she's got this funny thing where she rubs satiny fabrics on the palms of her hands and the bottoms of her feet.  you can see it in the next two pics.

 she loves pink and her 'really really big pink puppy backpack' so much still.