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

downtown.

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!!