Monday, January 26, 2015

culinary adventures!

food is one of life's greatest adventures in my opinion.  and Japanese food is there at the top of the craziest of the crazy when it comes down to it.  we've had several big adventures lately.

robert irvine- from the food network came and did his dinner impossible show on base (for free!) and we went!  last year for christmas I got kent tickets to see alton brown's cooking show in dayton- we loved it! and robert irvine's show was similar! only with far fewer people in the audience! so I lucked out and volunteered to go up and got chosen.  it was so much fun.  He had to do a fifteen minute dinner challenge where audience members chose six food items he had to turn into a tasty dish.  I was the tester.  the food items were lobster ( a live one!), lucky charms, japanese hot dog balls, bbq sauce,  leeks, and NATTO. 
Natto is the number 1 most disgusting food in japan. for reals.  it's fermented soy beans that are sitting in their own bacterial oozey waste products.  and you eat it.  the smell is like nothing you can imagine. 
the stinkiest nastiest rotten fungusy foot smell imaginable and robert irvine thought that cooking them up and adding peanut butter and coca cola to them would help calm the intensity.  the entire ballroom area stunk.  He sauteed the leeks and hot dog balls in the bbq sauce- and then stacked them all on top of each other with freshly cooked and buttered lobster on the very top.  He then sprinkled crushed lucky charms powder on it all. And I had to take a bite.  it was TERRIBLE.  he had the top ranking base commander taste it too. the guy lied and said it 'wasn't bad'. Then he made kent come up and taste it.  Kent also lied.  I could barely get it down.  I almost dry heaved.  it was so disgusting! and a really fun experience.  Robert Irvine is a really great guy who does a lot to support military members overseas and at home.  He was so nice!  he asked if I started having children at age 3 when he found out I had FOUR kids. Afterwards he told us we should have one more to make a basketball team and that children are life's greatest blessing. 

Here's a bad picture from the event :)

Last week was Japan's traditional mochitsuki!  every new year the Japanese make SO MUCH RICE and then POUND it into a rice paste and into balls called mochi. I don't love mochi- but it's not bad.  Just rice in a weird texture,

Our church's japanese congregation invited us to their mochi pounding and it was a great cultural experience!

I pounded the rice so hard it splattered on the ceiling!  The Japanese said that I had 'great form' and asked if I'd done it before :)
metta had a lot of fun pounding it as well!
I had no idea rice could be transformed into a paste like this with NO other ingredients!

they roll out the paste and flavor it with seaweed, lima bean paste, red bean filling, and some fabulous flavors like chocolate and fresh strawberries!
metta and her pals enjoying their mochi :)
metta loves rice and spent much of the morning scraping the sides of the mochi bowl and sneaking bites!

kent even got to run over on his lunch hour and enjoy some soup with us. the japanese made some delicious cabbagey soup for us, too!  I am never going to eat soup with a spoon again! we have fully adopted the slurping and drinking of your soup traditions now!  so much easier!!  plus- chopsticks are definitely the best utensil for eating ramen and soba and udon noodles.

for christmas I got kent this snazzy green fleece that goes over his uniform :) most expenisve and hideous fleece ever! but it keeps him warm and is authorized to wear as part of the uniform.  he still can't put his hands in the pockets, though.

Our most recent food adventure was our weekend date night.  Kent and I went to a local hole in the wall joint called "tony's tonkatsu house". An 'yoshio and michiko' -an older couple run the small little restaurant that has spots for eight people to sit on mats and a small bar.  

They speak decent english and make their food fresh when you arrive.  It was DELICIOUS.

Kent got the sampler.  shrimp, cheeese, and veggies wrapped in tonkatsu pork! with fresh salad, fruits, and veggies.
 I got his trademark famous 'tonkatsu pork'.  Everything was perfect. His special sauce is divine! tonkatsu pork is one of my favorite Japanese foods!
 dessert is a freshly cut pineapple!
 and it comes with fun appetizers- pickled items- crab-etc- and miso soup to start!  we'll take anybody who comes to visit!!
we'll be going back often!!

and finally- my long awaited- much feared -haircut!! I really don't do long hair well.and I hate it! but I've been so nervous to cut my hair here.  so many people have horror stories and tears thanks to terrible cuts.  I finally bit the bullet and went and saw 'Tamotsu' at the Aveda salon!  I got a fabulous head and shoulder massage! and a wonderful cut :) I am very happy.

keeping up...

 Can I just say one of the HARDEST things about having this baby #4 is my inability to use my camera as much as I'd like to?!  ugh! it makes me CRAZY.  I feel like I've got a baby attached to me or I'm chasing another 3 kids and I can't seem to stop and take any pictures. or even remember to bring my camera anywhere for that matter!!!  so here's a huge load of phone pics.

also - I obviously can't find much time to blog either!  I really need to get caught up.  it's my goal this week!!

these pictures are all mismatched and out of order! but- oh, well.
metta had one of her strange sleeping days a couple of weeks ago.  this is her at my turbokick class.  the music is SO loud. she just slept through the whole thing.  took one bite out her banana.
metta is so fun.  and I hope when we have another baby at some point- that it's a girl.  because if she is the one girl with four brothers- she will be so so spoiled.  I need her to have to share a room. and share her toys.  and maybe even her clothes at some point!! 
but- really- she's the coolest little girl.  already so fun to be around and easy to talk to!
ike and a lucky cat blow up.  I LOVE the lucky cat.  I'm kind of obsessed actually.  I want a giant porcelin one at our front door.  my goal is to find one before we move!! japan has made me love cats.

Japan is OBSESSED with lights.   they have these crazy christmas illuminations and then keep them up until April! we went to a local small amusement park around the new year and the show was spectacular!  music, flashing lights, the whole shebang.  millions of lights!!! it was awesome.
they also had some great classic rides!  this is like the tidal wave from lagoon.  the giant boat that sways back and forth! one of my favorite rides of all time.  this face zeb is making is for real.  he almost lost his lunch!!
the hello kitty train!
and the most amazing giant ferris wheel!! the views of the park were pretty wonderful.  and luckily we don't have any kids with a fear of heights!!
all of our kids LOVED the octopus.  metta still talks about it and begs to go again!!
well- except for the first time when I forced her on it!  she cried and was mortified! but then- after another go around- she LOVED it!!!
we got delicious naan for our dinner at the amusement park.  the indian food here in japan is so so tasty!!

 Here are a few Mack shots.  he's 3 months old and almost an interactive human being.
he gets dragged all over the place like and is pretty good about it.
he does still have a vomiting problem.  it's really out of control honestly.  i stink. he stinks. everything we own stinks.  we are always soggy and stinky.  it's really gross.

he's growing out of clothes fast!  probably because almost nothing he owns is new and is already shrunken to the size smaller than it states on the tag!
he still loves to be burritoed.  especially tight against his parents' chests. spoiled rotten.

we've been to several zoos lately.  the local zoos we go to only cost 600 or 700 yen for the ENTIRE family.  that's like 5-6 dollars!   and it's always fun for us to go and explore new suburbs of tokyo! 

this zoo is on the kichijoji train stop/neighborhood.  It's supposed to be similar to NYC's greenwich village.  I don't even know what that means :)  But it was a really funny neighborhood!  lots of kitschy shops and beautiful parks and a great zoo.

there are always fun rides at the zoos.  Everybody here loves to be active and have fun and have lots of things to do.  Even though the people live in cramped house and small spaces and people are packed in to japan so so tight- they make room for entertainment and space for fun!  we love it.

and there's always a shrine and temple!

plus- this train stop has a great fun street at night!  I really do love all of the crazy signs and advertisements.  it's SO JAPANESE :)  and so exciting every time we walk down them!!
and mcdonalds.  there's a mcdonalds at every train stop in this entire country. and we are so so grateful.  zeb loves the 'chicken crispoo' and the kids love the nuggets.   the restaurants are fancy and clean and the employees are lovely.  the food tastes better, too!

 I've got LOTS more pics to posts and stories to tell!!  

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

our littlest

I've been neglecting this little monkey.   He probably has fewer pictures of himself than any of my other kids at this age.  And I tried to take some pics of him today but I think I am a little out of practice! I need to do better at documenting his crazy fast changes!

This kid is mellow.  But a little spoiled.  During the day he loves to fall asleep for naps swaddled in a blanket pressed tight to my chest.  Somehow- miraculously- at night after feedings he'll fall right back asleep in his crib without being held! so, it's not all that bad.   I'm happy to rock him during the day :)

he's getting a little less stingy with his smiles- but still is pretty neutral about life in general!
he's content to hang out in the stroller while I run- and just sit in his carseat while I'm at the gym.  I'm one lucky mom.
On a negative note- he's got pretty bad reflux and is the vomiting machine!  he has been the world's WORST eater for awhile- acting like he was DYING every time we fed him. He would get all gaggy and act like he was being asphyxiated. He'd cry and eating took FORVER.  So- we started him on some zantac and while I'm still COVERED in spit up constantly- he's a happier eater.

 four kids has been our easiest transition in some aspects- but harder in others.  Evening is the hardest time.  We have WAY TOO MANY kids and not enough adults!!
 He's growing well.  His legs are still a little scrawny- but he's got chubby cheeks and a nice little belly.  Plus- look at his smile! and crazy blue eyes.  It's still weird to look into blue eyes on my kiddo.
and -cross my fingers- he is such a healthy little champ.  we have all had coughs, snotty noses, and all sorts of fun winter colds.  Metta coughs and sneezes in his face regularly.  I told Kent I need to add a little hand sanitizer his bottle regularly to try and keep him germ free!  He got a little congested one day- but was back to normal in less than 24 hours.  I'm a little terrified of RSV so I am glad to have such a hearty kiddo.