Sunday, September 20, 2015

the wedding!!

I'm just going to throw up a gazillion pictures and hope I cover everything we did when we flew back to the states in August!

We made the looooong journey for my baby sister's wedding!  I am so so happy we were able to be there and it was so much fun.  I gained 3 lbs in two weeks and did every single thing I wanted.  with that being said. UGH!!  Across the world jet lag with 4 kids is the worst thing EVER!!!  

we had a few rounds of family pictures while we were there.  But I don't think we got a single one where everybody is being 'normal'.  Since life with kids isn't ever 'normal' - I'm more than happy to admit that these pictures are very realistic :)
I'm doing some sort of major cheese here trying to get metta to crack a smile.  She had the hardest time with jet leg the entire two weeks.  the poor girl never regulated.

This is Kent's family. His 3 sisters, parents, spouses, kiddos, etc.  They are fabulous and we had so much fun with them all!!  It's so hard for our kiddos to come home to vastly different cousins!! they all grow so quickly and so much.
so- besides seeing family- I was most excited to EAT!!  for some reason- utah has the vest variety of the best foods on Earth. for real. we ate and ate and ate.  Mexican food at Los Hermanos was divine.  We've actually found some mexican here in Japan- but Los Hermanos still reigns as the king of mexican for me.
we made a visit to Heber, Utah to eat at the Dairy Keen and see their trains. Fresh raspberry and peach cobbler shakes.   I really really miss milkshakes!
after heber, we sent our kids home with the Miller grandparents and had our own mini getaway!  It was much needed! we've lived away from family our entire kid filled life- and we try to always take advantage of getting some us time when we are around family!

we have a tradition of going to the Blue Boar Inn in Midway, Utah.  It's a 5 star restaurant and bed and breakfast with author themed rooms!  This time we stayed in the EMily DIckinson room.  Their brioche french toast may be one of my #1 most craved foods.  I think about it often. and get the same thing every time we go! their granola and yogurt is also divine.

we found a little cafe with the most amazing stone fired pizza.   and it was super inexpensive. Hit up Cafe Galleria if you are in the area!

We went swimming at the Homestead mineral baths and shopped in park city and the next morning did the Sundance ziplines.  HOLY COW. it was UNREAL.  You zipline down the mountain. from the very top of sundance ski resort!!!  Because I grew up here- I take the views for granted.  I forget just how stunning Utah is. 

These are all cellphone pics- and don't do the views justice!! If you've never been to Utah- you MUST make a trip.  It is such a stunning place. You'll never be bored or hungry, either :)

The zipline was so exciting.  I can only compare it to skydiving!  you get moving 50mph- suspended 500 feet in the air! and fly down lines almost a mile in length!!!

this is the back side of Mt. Timpanogos.  I grew up in the valley on the other side of this mountain.

we also ran the timpanogos provo river trail half marathon while we were there.  I've NEVER laughed so hard during a race in my life.  this race was CRAZY.  it was organized and run by an old man and his dog.  The start of the race was him in his car- honking his horn- and driving off down the canyon while we chased after. we stayed warm with garbage bags he handed out and we shared waterbottle because he didn't have enough.  At the finish line- the man and his dog were frying up eggs for us. it was so ghetto and so fun. until mile 11 anyway.  The ENTIRE race was downhill.  steep hills.  I thought I'd PR with my best time ever :) instead I had to walk a mile from 11-12! Running straight down a mountain with NO downhill training is brutal on your knees and feet.  I've never had to walk in a half marathon.  But- I finished and had a blast!!
our kiddos played with cousins and I got to play with my cousins!  I have the best cousins in the world.  they are more like siblings.  we ate food, stayed up late, and laughed a lot.
Cousin tanner got a 'Leisy + Laney sandwich'. he's pretty lucky.

we totally lucked out that some of our very best ohio friends were in utah the same time as us!!  it was so so wonderful to see them all! and we got to meet up at chic fil a!!   I miss Ohio :(
The wedding was near the very end of our trip.  Here is my immediate family at the main event!  .  Daysa- my baby sis- is the last of the 4 girls to get married!  her husband, Cody, is awesome.  A perfect addition to the brothers-in-law!  You've got to be quite the catch to marry an Oswald sister and he's a great fit.

I have the 3 best sisters.  
the day before the wedding getting in some 'sister time'.

this is my favorite wedding pic.  the 4 sisters and the 4 husbands.  check out the bottom right pic of the sisters.  This hideous face we all make is genetic.
this is the best smiling picture of metta for the whole two weeks we were in Utah.  bribery and threats were involved in getting this picture.  I'm glad we got at least one- and I'm glad it was with the bride!
here's what most of the wedding pictures look like.  If you can't beat, join em. that's my motto with unruly children.
the 3 musketeers  Zeb, Ike, and Henry.  Henry is Laney's oldest- and he's actually smack dab  in the middle of zeb and Ike age wise.  His dad just happens to be 6' 7' so he dwarfs zeb.
the traditional triple twin cousin pic with grandma and grandpa oswald! I have such fabulous grandparents! I think I get a lot of my spunk from gma oswald.
sending off the bride and groom!
and, of course, the kissing picture!  poor daysa has this very picture from the last sister wedding- but she's all alone in the middle with nobody to kiss! I'm so happy she finally found her someone.
kent and I look very awkward in this picture!!  I was not prepared!!  if you want to see a better kiss from us- just ask :)

Our last two days in Utah were spent eating some more and checking the last item off our bucket list!
Sunday after the wedding we drove up to Temple Square to see my cousin's wife perform an organ concert in the tabernacle.  It was amazing.  she's so incredibly talented.

and even better- she is from Ukraine and served a mission for our church in Lativa and Estonia with my sister, Laney!  we all taught Russian together at the missionary training center when we returned home!  thank you for the wonderful concert, Zhenya!!
we also toured around temple square to see the art, watch a video, and check out the displays.  Utah is such a unique place in so many ways.  I'm grateful to have called it home for so many years.

here we are trying to assemble the monkeys for a family picture with the Christus statue!!  mack couldn't stop staring.

and- the best we could get :)  even in the chaos and stress- I am so happy to have such a perfect-for-me family.  I love them to pieces.  I'm so happy to have them forever.

our farewell to Uath involved ginormous kakigoris. the best snowcones on the planet.  they've even got Japan beat.  they were so delicioso.
metta and metta got theirs mixed up and had to do a double share.

the trip home was truly a breeze. our kids were a nightmare with jet lag- but were perfectly behaved on both 12 hr flights to the states and back!!  having a baby bassinet for mack was one of the best discoveries EVER.
and THANKfully- we had almost NO jet leg on our return to Japan.  the kids adjusted in one day! it was an answer to exhausted prayers.

Arigato, America!  We'll see you again in a few years!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Up the coastline-

I forgot to post these pictures from the Shimoda ropeway.  There are so many ropeways in japan!  It's probably because there's no easier way to access the steep bumpy terrain!  we love it because the views are astounding.
once at the top there was a mini hike- and more spectacular views!
 and- of course- a shrine!  this was a love shrine!!!
Kent and I threw rocks through the middle section of the venn diagram and now are guaranteed to have our love last forever.  It's a good thing we moved to Japan to make sure we live longer, have better luck, and have guaranteed eternal love!!! we've gained a lot living here :)

I just love this picture.  mack totally looks like these statues!!
Our last day of vacation- we decided to drive up the entirety of the Izu Eastern coast.  It was one of the best drives we've ever taken! besides the one spot where two busses tried to pass each other to no avail.  Traffic both ways had to back up the steep cliffsides and do some maneuvering to get it to happen! I can't believe the two busses actually fit on one section of road simultaneously.

Our first stop on the drive was  "Izoo on the Izu"  Both words are pronounced the very same way.  And are written in English!? it still always baffles me that the English language is used so much in business and advertising here.

The zoo was the coolest. but check out Zeb's face!  when we first arrived- he walked up to the zoo and saw the posters behind my head.  Can you see them?  They have pictures of cool animals like elephants, giraffes, penguins, lions, etc. All with giant Xs through them.  Izoo has only amphibians, reptiles, insects, and the occasional other random creature.  He was super upset.  very disappointed.

luckily the zoo did anything but disappoint.  It was a hands on zoo!! and honestly- I prefer reptiles and amphibians to mammals anyway. Check out the awesome real live chameleon that metta and I found in a little tree!
we got to place bets on racing turtles! the japanese sure know how to get excited about stuff.   kent's turtle won and he got a fabulous turtle eraser.  The Japanese LOVE erasers.
the boys warmed up after the chameleon and were willing to hold some of the creatures.
this tortoise tried to eat mack's stroller!  he got a hold of the wheel in his mouth and we couldn't get him off!  mack tried to jump from the stroller the entire time- so we let him out to roam and the two became instant friends. and isn't mack absolutely adorable?! he turns ONE next month?! what????!!!

Metta tried to talk to them all.  I told her they probably spoke Japanese.

the grounds of the zoo were pretty astounding!  kent even found a wild aloe plant growing and applied aloe to my one small patch of sunburn. Out of all six of us- on a beach vacation- I was the only person to get a sunburn (and it was very small). I was pretty proud of my sunscreen skills.

For lunch we all ate GATOR! gator nuggets, gator curry rice!, and gator kebabs.  It's all they serve at the zoo cafe!  we didn't tell the kids until after they'd eaten in!  everybody liked it just fine.

Further down the coastline- we found Jogasaki.  There are all sorts of amazing rock formations, a big lighthouse, suspension bridge, and the deepest blue water I've ever seen!  It looked like food coloring had been poured into the ocean.

we are lucky to not have any kids afraid of heights or climbing! or is that an unlucky thing???  It makes it easier for us to cross bridges and have adventures :)

I wish you could tell just how blue the water was.  It was a little eerie.

the warning signs.

Just as we hit the top of the Izu peninsula- we cut up into the mountains to head back toward base and stumbled upon one of my new favorite EVER temples in Japan.  It is literally on a steep mountainside- far above the Pacific ocean.
as we pulled off the road to check it out- we realized nobody else was there.  I got out to take some pictures and an older japanese gentleman approached us.  He must have been a groundskeeper or worker of some sort.  Somehow he communicated to us that he would let us all in and show us the place!  He also got an umbrella for each one of our family members.  Even though there was barely a sprinkle!
the Japanese are such hospitable and respectful hosts.  They'll do anything to make sure you are happy and comfortable.  even ramble on about something in japanese when it's obvious we have NO IDEA what is being said :)
the magnitude of this statue is unbelievable.  How they constructed it or placed it on this mountainside- I will never understand!
I'm on the hunt for a fabulous happy fat man statue for our house.  everybody needs a happy fat man in their house.

the repetition and vast numbers of the statues at these temples and shrines is mesmerizing to me!

metta's crazy smile.  she's so great. and such a trooper with that leg of hers.  We could tell she was exhausted- but she complained the least of all our children.

we spent an hour or so exploring the grounds and then got in our car to head home.  Just a few minutes into the last leg of our drive- the rains set in.  One of the many typhoons that has been bombarding japan started wailing on us.  I've never seen so much rain.  But our trip to Izu was amazing.  I really really want to go back - and that's saying a lot since we have such a loooooong bucket list of things to do here!