Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Brad had to go to Okinawa (a tropical island south of Tokyo) for 2 weeks in August for a trial, so we thought "let's try to catch a space-a flight and go with him."

It took us 6 times over 5 days of going to the terminal here on base for us to finally get a flight.

But, we made it.  We flew on the patriot express with Atlas Air and have never had better flight attendants.  The girls loved every minute, especially when they got to wear the scarf and sit in the special seat.

We had a layover at a marine station, so travel time was about 9 hrs.

Cailin's face shows exactly how we felt when we landed in Okinawa.

With a good night's sleep we were ready to hit the beach the next day.  We drove about 15 minutes to an Army post that has this awesome beach.

What a perfect morning.

While Brad worked, we explored the base (on foot since we didn't have a car).  There were about 5 places we could walk to. 

The girls were convinced these statues outside the BX are to keep the bad guys away.

Free mini golf at the community center

We went on nightly walks off base when Brad got home.

This is a diagonal crosswalk through a major intersection.  First one we'd ever seen.  All traffic stops while pedestrians cross.  I couldn't get the whole intersection in the picture, but it was pretty cool.

We loved hanging out at the sea wall.

Brad's trial got delayed on Wednesday, so he unexpectedly got to spend full 2 days with us.  We rented a car and drove to the Ocean Expo Park.

 We played for a while on the nets,

saw the dolphin show,

 had more beach time,

and ate ice cream.

Then they sent us home because a typhoon was coming.

On Friday we went to the Pineapple Park.  We learned all about pineapple and got to sample all we wanted.

Then right in the middle of it was a huge seashell display that filled 2 rooms.  We were a little confused on the sudden appearance of seashells in a pineapple park, but it was pretty cool nonetheless.

Then it was more sampling and buying anything and everything pineapple.  We probably would have bought something, except that the prices were exceptionally high like this liter of juice for almost $13.

 We found a great ramen restaurant for lunch.  Brad loves ramen.  It's not my favorite only because of the seaweed they put in most of it.

So, I ordered fried rice that came out in this bowl that is so hot it cooks while it's sitting in front of you (like a frying pan, but a bowl).  I'd had other meals with the frying pan bowl, but never fried rice.  I love how the rice gets crispy at the bottom.  Such a good lunch.

Then we went to another fruit park, but it wasn't as big a hit as the pineapple park.

We were pretty tuckered out afterward, but don't worry we got one final go at the beach.  Did I mention we love the beach?  We were hoping to catch a red sunset, but the clouds wouldn't allow it.

It was a great trip.  I'm glad I didn't give up after the first five times of not making a flight.

Best of the 4th of July Celebration

Dressing up like pirates for the scavenger hunt (longest, hardest hunt we've ever done)

with our friends, the Jones family.  But we took 3rd place!

Pony rides

Face Painting

Ian's first corn on the cob

First fireworks too!

And this isn't even half of what we did.

What a great day!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Ian's happy (and he knows it)

Ian is a happy baby, but now we have proof that he knows it.

A couple weeks ago, Alexa and Cailin were singing the "if you're happy and you know it" song to each other, and Alexa just decided to try to get Ian to join in on the fun.  She said "if you're happy and you know say ba-ba!" And wouldn't you know, he said "ba-ba!"  I thought for sure it was a fluke, but then she sang it again, and he complied again.  This went on about 6-7 times when I realized I needed to capture this on video.  I got my phone out just in time to capture the last few seconds of him feeling cooperative.  And get a load of his big finish. It's priceless.

We've tried several times since then to get him to do this again, but either he no longer knows he's happy, or he's just not interested in being his sisters' puppet/parrot.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Fun Signs

Some of my favorite signs I've seen in Japan so far.  :)

Just one of the many perks about living overseas.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Artist

"I'm an artist," Alexa said dryly, matter-of-factly. 

Not "I wanna be an artist," and not "I'm gonna be an artist." Rather, "I'm [currently, sure as I'm sitting here, no doubt about it] an artist."

One of her friends, a little older than her, was complimenting her on a picture she drew. Intended or not, Alexa perceived it as patronizing. And she wasn't having any of it, at least not from a near peer.

And sure enough, she is an artist. She created these lovely flowers today without any help from mom or dad. 

We'll have to work on the attitude, but she's definitely a creative one. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

3rd time's the charm

Alexa figured out how to ride her bike, sans training wheels, on just her third attempt.  Cassi captured it on video. 

Now, all she wants to do is ride her bike.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Silly Saluting

I don't know if anyone out there is still reading our blog.  We post so sporadically, that it's probably very dull to follow us, but this little exchange I had with Alexa needs to be memorialized, so here goes.

Cassi and the kids picked me up for lunch today.  We went to our favorite restaurant, an Indian place called the Great Taj Mahal, because they were having a lunch deal to commemorate their 6th anniversary of being open.  The curry there is great, but we go for the naan.  It's outstanding. Here's to 6 more years of soul-pleasing naan...

Anyway, this place is just a stones throw from base, so there were a lot of personnel from base enjoying the lunch deal.  On our way out, a group of three Airmen were strolling up to the restaurant.  They saluted me, I returned their salute.  Alexa noticed this and asked "Why do you always do this?" as she's hitting her forehead repeatedly. I said, "We have to do it for work," thinking I would spare her (and myself) the explanation of military customs and courtesies that contribute to good order and discipline among us service members.  Alexa just starts cracking up.  Like really laughing.  And I don't think I've seen her laugh like this before.  She gets giggly from time to time, but this was different from giggly.  She really found this idea of hitting your forehead with your hand funny.  And maybe the thought that I had to do it for work contributed to the humor.  I said, "you're a funny girl," because her cracking up made me start laughing.  She said, "no, I'm not the one who does this all the time" and starts hitting her hand against her forehead again.  We laughed all the way to the car, and I've been laughing about this throughout the day.  She's 5, by the way.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Christmas and Other Celebrations

We've had a very good week, so let us tell you about it.  Santa Clause found his way here, and apparently had a surplus of Hello Kitty stuff that he had to unload here.  Alexa's been pretty excited about Hello Kitty since we got here, and it's only recently that Cailin has caught on to the greatness that is Hello Kitty.  So, it was at the top, bottom, and middle of both of their Christmas Wishlists.  But before we get to the gifts, let's talk about Christmas.

We've tried to ask the girls often why we celebrate Christmas.  As we got closer to Christmas, they started giving us the answer we were looking for: Because Jesus was born in the stable.  We sang a lot of "Away in a Manger" over the last 3 wks, usually because one or the other of the girls wanted to sing it.  And it paid off in a big way the week before Christmas at church when the closing hymn was "Away in a Manger."  These little girls out sang everyone.  It's not a contest, I know, but it was still impressive to see and hear them belting out, nearly in tune, "...The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay. (!!!)"  We knew they both had a solid handle on the 1st verse, but even we were surprised when they finished the second verse just as strong as the first.  Everyone around us were turning to see where the sound was coming from, then after the meeting people who were sitting on the other side of the church came up to tell us they could hear Alexa and Cailin singing.  It was great.  These girls love to sing.

On the Sunday right before Christmas, Alexa somehow got it into her head that she wanted to draw a picture for the front of the ward program.   Neither of us know how she came up with this idea. Anyway she started drawing the nativity, but then didn't know how to draw a manger.  I gave her a very rough idea, because I'm the world's least talented artist, and she took it from there.  After church we told her who was in charge of the weekly programs, and Alexa, by herself, found that sister  and delivered her drawing. Well, we showed up this week surprised as anyone that Alexa's artwork was on the front of the program.  Alexa was a little embarrassed by the attention she received, but deep down I think she liked it.

On Christmas Eve, our next door neighbors had us over for a Christmas Eve dinner with games and a live nativity, in which our children played significant roles.  Cailin was the angel bringing "glad tidings of great joy" to the shepherds "keeping watch over their flock by night."  Alexa was Mary, and Ian was a very healthy baby Jesus.  Good parents would have taken pictures to share with all our many readers spanning the globe, but on this night we weren't good parents.  Luckily for all of us, there were good parents present that sent us these:

On Christmas morning, the girls woke up around 6:30 as usual.  And as usual, we made them play in their room until 7.  That's how we roll, even on Christmas.  Then we sang some Christmas songs and then let them come down to see if Santa had been here (Sorry the video's a little fuzzy, I reduced the file size a little too much).

I was very excited to get a new pair of hiking boots.  We'll see how many times they get to the summit of Fuji... Cassi also got new kicks (that's what us cool kids call them), but hers were for running.  The girls were very excited to get Hello Kitty socks, Hello Kitty clothes, a Hello Kitty alarm clock, Hello Kitty toothbrushes, and Hello Kitty coloring books.  Oh, and Cassi just reminded me that they also got Hello Kitty dolls.  Oh, and she just came back to remind me about the set of Hello Kitty bath toys.  I'd say we've got Hello Kitty covered, but it's obvious who's covering whom.

A week or so before Christmas, Cassi took the girls to the thrift store to let them pick a gift for each of us in the family.  They got me a bag of long golf tees (perfect, because I don't use the short ones).  They gave Cassi some star-shaped wooden clips that she'll have to find a purpose for.  And I loved what they picked for baby Ian:

Anytime the topic of Christmas came up over the past few months, Alexa was very excited to announce to anyone/everyone that her birthday is just two days after Christmas.  So, once Christmas came to a close, it was time to focus on the birthday girl.  The presents started anew, mostly from kind neighbors and her thoughtful grandmas.  One gift that was not Hello Kitty was from Alexa's friends, Gabe and Genna.  It's a game called Headbanz in which you put a card containing a Disney character on your forehead w/o looking at it, and ask yes-or-no questions about your card until you can identify what or who's on your card.  It comes with some outstanding hats.

This little cheater looks at the card, slaps it into her hat, then fakes like she doesn't know who's on her card for a few questions.  So for this one, she said "Is I'm Snow White?" No.  "Is I'm a horse?" No.  "Is I'm a Dwarf?"

On Alexa's birthday, partly for our anniversary and partly for Alexa's birthday, we went into Tokyo to spend the night.  The military owns a sweet MWR resort there in downtown, called the New Sanno.  It's great for us because it is just down the street from the temple, and it's great for the kids because it has a pool.  Our plan was for one of us to go to the temple while the other watched the kids, then switch.  But, our Bishop, who is also our neighbor and awesome, found out about our plan and offered an improvement to our plan:  They could go with us and their 14-yr-old daughter, Hikari, watch the kids while we all went to the temple (you may remember Hikari from when we watched her hamster, Honey, a few months back).   Hard to say no to that deal, and it worked out great.  We got to go to the temple together, the girls got to play with Hikari (they LOVE Hikari) and Ian did what Ian does (chilled/slept the whole time).

After going to the temple, we all went with Bishop Skabelund's family to an awesome ramen restaurant, and then we set out to see some Christmas lights in a ritzy part of Tokyo called Roppongi.  On our way, Bishop picked up Cailin (w/o telling her in advance) and set her on his  shoulders.  She was grinning ear-to-ear.

The only lights we were able to see were the city lights, pictured below, and the lights on the small trees in that picture of Cailin's teeth.
Roppongi, with the famous Tokyo Skytree, at night
The lights we hoped to see had been turned off after Christmas was over.  Japan is big into energy conservation these days, so that may be why they were so eager to pull the plug.  Oh well.  We found a TV station in that area (I'm not sure who's idea it was or who knew to go there) where they had what seemed like a kid's play place with characters from the cartoons the station broadcasts.

Here the girls and Hikari pose with a character called "Doraemon."  I'm sure he's awesome in every way. 

Cailin with a panda bear.  Don't know what this little bear goes by, but my guess is it starts with "V."
This little game was fun.  It was in Doraemon's section, in case you care.

And because I just can't help myself, I challenged Bishop to a Doraemon pump-off:

Sweet victory is mine!

After our fun with Doraemon and co., we said goodnight to the Skabelunds, and we headed back to the New Sanno for some fun in the pool.  It was kinda late (about 9 pm) so we told the girls they could choose if they wanted to go swimming that night or in the morning, but not both.  They naturally chose swimming now over swimming later so we got about an hour of swimming in before the pool closed.  Cassi made a liar out of me later when she decided she hadn't had enough hot tub time.  So we surprised the girls in the morning with another hour or so of pool time.  And Cassi got her hot tub time.  It did not disappoint.

It's a little hard to pack so much celebration into one week, but this year it worked out.  We had a wonderful Christmas, even tho' we weren't able to be with our family.  And we had a great time in Tokyo celebrating Alexa's birthday and our 8th Anniversary.

Merry Christmas, friends, and Happy New Year!