Sunday, February 1, 2015

Tokyo Disney!!!!

I feel like we have to seize the day living here.  I can't say: "we'll do that later" because there's ALWAYS something to do or somewhere to go and not enough laters!  so last week we took the kids out of school and went to disneyland!

I was so excited for "it's a small world".  I wanted to see the Japan part while actually being IN japan.  It did not disappoint!!  so exciting :)
tokyo disneyland is almost always INSANELY busy.  Japan in general is busy. and very crowded.  but we picked a pretty good day!  it was chilly- but not freezing,  and the crowds were pretty normal. the popular rides had longer waits- but we got fast passes for stuff like Buzz Lightyear and thunder moutnain railroad- and most of the smaller rides were no longer than 15-20 minutes!  splash mt was closed :( but the kids LOVED star tours!!
metta hated the snow white ride. I forgot how scary it is!!
the COOLEST thing about tokyo disney is the popcorn.  It's AMAZING.  you buy these popcorn buckets and then can fill them at popcorn stations all around the park!  and they have a gazillion CRAZY popcorn flavors!!  we actually borrowed buckets from friends so we just had to pay for cheap refills!  we ate popcorn ALL DAY LONG!

they have soy sauce, curry, strawberry, chocolate, caramel, orange marmalade, salty, and more!  the only flavor we didn't love was chocolate!  orange marmalade was my favorite!!  

they had regular food like turkey legs and churros as well- so our kiddos were more than happy!
taking four kiddos to a place as crazy as Tokyo Disneyland was no easy feat! we had our double stroller and that was LIFESAVING! Kent has the three oldest kids here watching a parade!  Have I mentioned that four kids is a lot!?
It was so fun to watch the parades and see Japanese people in all of the roles!  the dancing japanese chimney sweepers were my favorite for some reason!  I loved it!
they had family/baby bathrooms that were AMAZING! entire rooms full of changing tables! perfectly heated water for bottles.  it was crazy. and really helpful :)
disneyland with kids is an entirely different experience than disney without :) The kids loved stuff like 'minnie's house'

we stopped to rest and warm up by watching shows.  they were all really good!  Kent and I never stopped for parades and shows without kids!  I'd have to say- I still prefer disney without kids better- but it was a lot of fun!  we didn't get nearly as many pics as I wanted because my hands were almost always full!  but metta LOVED the frozen parade!  they made it snow all around the floats!

the Japanese take disneyland VERY seriously.  I really really wish we'd gotten some pictures with some of them- but groups of friends come ALL dressed up identically with crazy matching hair and disney outfits!  it's unreal!!!   at least 50% of the girls/women have their hair all done up like minnie mouse (little buns to look like ears) with giant bows!

Ike and I did the teacups and went CRAZY!  he is so much like me when it comes to rides.  we spun so so so so fast!
this and thunder mt railroad were his favorite!! same as me. I'm a proud mom.

this is a pic I attempted to take mid spin!

the view from the swiss family robinson treehouse!
here we are about to get on the jungle boat cruise ride.  It's not nearly as entertaining in Japanese :)  we didn't get any of the jokes. or even understand them for that matter!
they had an AMAZING show ON the castle.  they showed all of the princesses and transformed the castle into their specific castle!!

and the electric light parade is the very same!  it made me a little homesick with the music.  I'm pretty sure growing up we had the RECORD with the electric light parade music!

by closing time- it got pretty cold and we were EXHAUSTED!  alongside disneyLAND- they have disneySEA.  we were going to hit Disneysea the next day- but there was freezing rain in the forecast and we were pooped! so we'll have to go again soon!  we drove into downtown tokyo to our hotel that night  and crashed!  we ended up spending the next time having some fun in tokyo.  like I said- there is SO MUCH TO DO!!!

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!!