Thursday, December 16, 2010

still here...

No I did not fall off the face of the earth!!! I am in PA with my family and loving every minute of it :-) Sorry for the lack of posts - you'll get me back in January!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Thanksgiving countdown #19...

Today I am thankful for diversity. Yesterday was a unique view at how un-diverse some places are! Especially Japan. Seriously, I don't think we saw one other person that had blonde hair. There were a few other Americans there, some Germans, and some middle-eastern people at the mountain - but there was literally a sea of Japanese people. Black hair, dark eyes. I loved it - but it made me realize how lucky we are in the states to be surrounded by people of all colors, races, ethnicities, disabilities, etc. If that were a place in the US, there would be a rainbow of people.

One of the things I loved about Gavin's school last year was that he was exposed to kids of different abilities. More than 1/2 of the kids had some sort of challenge - whether it was a hearing problem, Down Syndrome, paralysis, burn victim, ADD, Autism... he was in an environment where it was not treated as "different" or "unique". It was everyday school for him. It was diverse. And everyone was treated equally.

On base we have a plethora of people too - but off base is a different story. I like that my kids have to experience what it feels like to be different. I think it will make them understand that it doesn't matter what your skin color or religion, each person is wonderful within themselves. Just as they are wonderful - even if they have blonde hair and blue eyes in a land where hardly anyone else does. I hope when we get back to the states they remember what it was like to be a little different - and I hope that they don't make other people feel bad when they are the 'different' ones.

“We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color.”
Maya Angelou

thanksgiving Countdown #18...

Yesterday was New Adventures...Today's thankful post is about Family Adventures!

Today was one of the first days that we were able to go out of town as a family and go on an adventure since we have been in Japan. Patrick's work had been so busy, we had parties or other activities, etc - so we were so excited to get a chance to go away for the day together. Patrick had never even been on the train yet (the kids and I are pros by now :-)! So when Patrick mentioned he wanted to go to Mt Takao I was happy to oblige!

Mt Takao is said to be a sacred mountain, with temples and statues of the Gods, and is a highlight of Japan in the autumn months. The foliage is to be one of the best in the Tokyo region. We hopped on the train (about 30 minutes total to get there) and waited in line for the chair lift (we thought it was more fun than the cable cars). The kids absolutely LOVED the chair lift (and so did mommy and daddy) as we rose up and up and up and up into the tree line. I am glad it was not too high off the ground (and there was nets and trails under the whole thing too). I would have been happy to just ride that all day! But, we didn't!!!

We got off the lift and hiked for a little while. We found a good resting place and ate lunch to gain some energy and then we were back up the hiking trail. The kids did great, although we did have to carry Evelyn a few times (she still has a cold and was getting hard to breathe at points). But all-in-all they did awesome! We walked past all the stations, enjoyed the views of the temples, the statues, the markets selling fun items and food, but especially the views. It was a clear day, slight breeze, perfectly sunny. Simply breathtaking. I made sure we stopped a few times just to enjoy the moment around us. We had the kids carry a plastic bag and collect some of their favorite things from the trip (acorns, leafs, rocks) and we will make a craft with them tomorrow.

There were some steep stairs, but we hiked to the summit (599 meters)! The trip down went way faster!!! All said, we were there for about 4 hours. It truly was a great family adventure. It was super-duper crowded because a) it was a weekend and b) it is prime koyo season (colorful foliage) but we didn't mind. The only waiting we did was for the chair lift - which was only 1/2 hour or so. It was pretty fun to see all the people gawk over Gavin and Evelyn and their blonde hair!

I wanted to go to the "trick museum" when we were done - but we are going to save that for another day! For now, this family adventure was awesome, and something I will always be thankful for!

Friday, November 19, 2010

thanksgiving Countdown #17...

New Adventures. Today, this is what I am thankful for.

I was fortunate enough to be able to go on my Culture Club trip with our Japanese friends. We went on a 30 minute train ride and wound up nestled in the gorgeous mountains and right along side the river. It was a gorgeous day (perfectly clear skies, bright sun, a little chilly in the shade) and we enjoyed every minute of it.

We ended up going to the Sawanoi Museum Combs and Ornamental hairpins museum (4000 fancy schmancy type of combs made of gold, ivory, coral, etc - some dated back to 10,000 BC) which overlooked the amazing river and all it's scenery. When we were there, our Japanese friends told us we should visit the bathroom since we were walking a ways to the next stop. And to our joyous surprise, the toilets were flushed using bubbles. They took the water from the river and literally made bubbles to flush the toilets (see photo above).

After the silly Americans were done using the bathroom, we went outside and hiked for about a mile on a path next to the river. We saw people bouldering on some rocks, a man fly fishing, some kayakers, people sitting on the rocks eating lunch, locals selling fruit (grown right there on their property), kids during their PE class at school running around, and amazing foliage. Seriously amazing. And each type of tree had different stories. Plum trees, pear trees, beautiful ginkgo trees (the brightest yellow tree you will ever see), just to name a few...and of course, the amazing japanese maple (just known as maple tree here). The brilliant colors coming from the trees have a lot of significance. Some say there are kimono-designers that base their fabric and makings on the color variations.

After our hike we ended up at a well-known local tofu restaurant. We had to wait a bit, so we muched on some samples in the lobby/gift shop area. Most of us ended up with a bag full or yummies to bring back to family - because it was really that good. Lunch was unique. I am not a tofu lover (texture thing) but I tried a little of everything on my plate. I even tried some salmon eggs (no thanks for the future). I tried to smother as much wasabi on my food as possible to gag it down...but I am glad I tried it!!!

After lunch we went to a famous artist's museum. The artist, Kawai Gyokudo, was one of the greatest masters of the Japanese art world. He was a teacher to Her Imperial Majesty in Japan. He started his artwork at a very early age - but even I (not an art appreciator) was drawn to his work. Their handout says "He had and ability to impress upon the observer a deep feeling of grace and elegance in nature..." and it's true! The mountains, plants, trees and animals all have a place of peace in his work. I was actually drawn to a few of his works, one in particular. Luckily, they sold reproductions so I could own one at a decent price! Most of us ended up buying one since it was such an awesome experience that we will probably not get to go see again (I don't think I could find it again :-) Mine in a picture of a branch with some buds on it...and some japanese writing messily scribbled down the side. It is actually a picture of sights AND thoughts - which I thought was totally cool. His scribbles were not actual thoughts...but thoughts of thoughts (very Power of Now). His museum also had an awesome zen garden - which was very cool to see. I loved the feeling of "bigger than my body" I got while I was there.

We had a few minutes to kill before our train - so we all sat by the riverside and talked and had some snacks. It was picturesque. Seriously. We had a beautiful day, filled with wonderful women that crossed cultural barriers. I am very thankful I had this experience.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

thanksgiving Countdown #16...

Today's thankful for fair trade. Not the kind that helps sustain 3rd world countries (although that is wonderful too). The fair trade I am talking about is when a friend does something helpful for you (usually watch your kids) and you can fairly do something helpful for them too.

I am not shy about asking friends for help. "Can you watch Evie while I take Gavin into Tokyo?" seems to come out of my mouth a lot this past week. And I only have a handful of friends in Japan I can ask the same people usually hear the request. And I did my fair share of asking for babysitting favors in Ohio. I can't even count how many times Angie listened to the monitor (aka babysitting while Evie was asleep in her crib), watched the kids for minutes or hours - as well as many other friends (Ashli, Autumm, Dana, Jessica, Christa....seriously - too many to count). So I am thankful for when I can pay back the favor and make it seem a little more fair!!!

My friend, Amy, ended up being the Evelyn watcher today. So I was thrilled when she asked if I could watch her kids for a bit tomorrow so she could go shopping with her husband. OF COURSE! It makes me feel better knowing I can help out too and I am not always the one asking. I will ALWAYS try to help out (even if it is not reciprocated) but it makes me feel better, like the world is rotating on the correct axis, when fair trade works out. And I have learned to ask about the trade first, before just asking about a favor... "Jami, can I take your kids for you today so you can get stuff done, and then trade tomorrow? I need Gavin to go to a friend's house while I am in culture club" get the point! So I love when people take me up on it :-)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

thanksgiving Countdown #15...

Today I am thankful for game nights.

Sometimes people think I am competitive. I have no clue what makes them think this, but since more than one person has said it...I guess it must have some merit.

Last night I went to the Medical Auxiliary Group's Bunko night. It was a great time, and I won one of the prizes (not that I am keeping track of that stuff :-) I also play in a weekly Mah Jongg game - which definitely helps get my competitiveness a chance to break out!!!

I loved me some game nights in Ohio too. Even if I was playing with some people who English was not their first language. Even is some people didn't know that when the beeper starts going faster - it means the time is running out. Even if no one wanted to be on my team because they thought I would be mad if our team lost. I truly always looked forward to it...even if the other people cheated and I ended up not winning somehow. Sometimes, I even learned a few things...(dirty pictionary really helps you get to know your friends and neighbors)!

I love playing games with my kids. Candyland, Connect Four, match 'em up, touch screen games... and we all know I love playing Wii with Patrick ;-)

I am looking forward to finding friends in Japan to play with. If any will have me after reading this post.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

thanksgiving Countdown #14...

Sisterhood. The word with a thousand meanings, but with the same feeling. Miriam Webster states sisterhood as:

a : the state of being a sister
b : sisterly relationship

: a community or society of sisters; especially : a society of women in a religious order

: the solidarity of women based on shared conditions, experiences, or concerns

And although I am always thankful for my 'real' sisters, Anna and Kaitlin, that would fall under my general thankfulness I have all the time. I promised no obvious thankful this is not about them (although, I repeat, I AM very grateful for them).

Today, I am thankful for the non-biological sisterhood. One of the best decisions I have ever made in my life was to join the sisterhood of Delta Phi Epsilon. To this day, I utilize lessons learned, keep in touch with friends made, and even with current sisters there now (OK - it helps that my biological sister Kaitlin is also there now). I still wear my letters proud and am forever grateful for the opportunity to be part of such a wonderful organization.

I am also thankful for the sisterhood of best friends. Friends til the end. Friends that know everything about you and still love you anyway. Friends you have known since 1st grade. Friends who you roomed with in college. Friends you met at your first 'real' job. Friends you met while your husband was in med school. Friends you relied on whole-heartedly during residency. These sisters of my heart were always there for me and I know they always will be. I could go months without speaking to them, or talk to them every day. There is a natural bond that literally and physically draws me to want to be near them. They have held my hair while I puked. They were the first person I called when I found out I was pregnant (even before Patrick). They made me meals for months after Evelyn was born. They were in my wedding. They let me join in their weekly Grey's anatomy nights. They understood 100 hour work weeks. They celebrated when I passed my athletic training exam on the first attempt. They, unfortunately, were sexually harassed with me while we were both too scared to say anything (until we found out about each other and finally stepped up and said something!)!

And now, I am in a sisterhood community again. There is no choice but to support and love one another now. Being the wife of a military man has it's unique challenges. Living in Japan does also. So today, I was very thankful for the Yokota Officer Spouse Club. They held a beautiful luncheon and discussed how to throw a party. From decorations, to food prep, to folding the napkins. And even though I have only been here for 3 months (almost 4!), I can feel the unspoken sisterhood there. It's unmistakable.

And I am very blessed to be able to experience sisterhood in all the possible ways and definitions!

Monday, November 15, 2010

thanksgiving Countdown #13...

Today I am thankful for Blogs. I love reading blogs, writing blogs, and stalking blogs (my google Reader helps me keep track of anyone who posts something new so I don't have to check each person's blog every day). It is a great way to keep in touch with friends and loved ones, to get inspired and to inspire others, and for learning new things, relevant or not.

Even though I personally think the word 'blog' is stupid, and sounds like an STD or ugly growth, I LOVE the idea of them. There are certain blogs I look forward to reading every day. People who are professional bloggers. People I have never met, yet feel like I have known forever. Then there are my best of friends who I talk to all the time, yet still enjoy reading about their adventures.

But today, I am especially thankful for food bloggers. Anyone who knows Kelly Why (the old me) knows I couldn't even boil water without ruining it. One time, my mom asked me to start dinner for her. She told me to preheat the oven, take the roast out of the fridge, put it in the pan and surround it with veggies (already precut and ready to just add to the pot). So I did all of the above. But she never specified to actually put the roast in the oven - so she was pretty disappointed when she came home to a roast sitting on the counter for an hour or so. Seriously - I was pathetic. When Patrick and I first started dating I knew how to make Easy Mac...and that was seriously it. But slowly and surely, he got me interested in cooking. One of the first things I learned how to do (and one of my favorites still) was to use the crock pot. I got a cookbook with different recipes, slow cookers for dummies, and some recipes from my mom. Then I ventured out and started using the grill. Until finally, I was not a total klutz in the kitchen all around.

The thing I love most about food blogs is that they are usually done by stay-at-home moms, not some gourmet chef. They use practical items and teach you how to use items you have already. Don't have brown sugar??? One cup of sugar and 1 TBSP of molasses. Don't want to run to the store for fresh broccoli? Use frozen bagged broccoli and add it to a boiling pot of pasta in the last 6 minutes. I have a plethora of food blogs I follow on a regular basis (OK - I stalk them) to get ideas for the week. I am trying new recipes about 3 times a week. Some are good...some we will not try again. But I love trying them. I can follow slow cooker blogs, southern comfort food blogs. I love one in particular that has a weekly menu along with some favorites from food blogs that she follows. She posts pictures along the way - to dumb it down for me specifically (at least, that is what I would like to believe).

So today, I am thankful for food blogs. Today's dinner was slowly deviled beef.

2 lbs. stew meat
1 med. onion, chunked
1 med. green pepper, chunked
1 envelope dry sloppy joe mix
1 can tomato paste (6 oz.)
6 oz. water
2 tbsp. cider vinegar
Mix all ingredients together. Cook 4 hours on Hi or 8 hours on low.

Great served over noodles!!! Enjoy!!!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

thanksgiving Countdown #12...

Another no-brainer today. Although, something I have come to take for granted (as most things), today I am thankful for electricity. And warm water. And the comforts of living in a home.

On Saturday, we had the power shut off for the day. This is the second scheduled power outage on base since we have moved here. We have also had a 3 day hot water outage. That was no fun.

Luckily, this day was gorgeous outside! Our first outage was on a 100 degree humid day in July. It was God awful. We ended up going away for the weekend just so we could get air conditioning. This time, no such worries. It was a gorgeous day outside. We went to breakfast at the bakery (along with 1/2 the base) since they were operational, went to an outdoor craft fair for a few hours while the kids played with friends and I shopped, and then went to a birthday party where there was electricity. When we got back home, we all took naps and when we woke up - we had power!

But it made me realize how grateful I am for that smart guy, flying a kite during a thunderstorm, Ben Franklin, who made most of the luxuries in my home possible.

Friday, November 12, 2010

So….another little blurb for Shutterfly. Not only do I absolutely love their adorable, affordable holiday cards (, I also love a ton of their other products too!

Their holiday invitations have saved me on more than one occasion ( and their Christmas ornaments make awesome presents for grandparents, parents, etc. (

Most of all, what I love about Shutterfly is their photo books ( These have always been one of the cherished gifts that I give. I have used them to documents family vacations, the kids growth through the year, and special projects we have done around the house, just to name a few. But one of my favorite uses for these photo books is to keep track of my children’s schoolwork and art. I scan their projects and assignments into a jpg file and then create a book out of it for them to have forever! It keeps all of their work together, and I can throw away the original without feeling guilty since I have saved it forever into one of these books!

So, whenever I need a gift idea, and invitation, holiday cards, or even prints made – I always check out shutterfly first! They have great prices to start with and they usually have special deals to boot! Check them out – I am sure you will be glad you did!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

thanksgiving Countdown #11...

Today I am grateful for one hour. Actually, it is 2 separate 1 hour segments that I get each day with my kids.

I drop Gavin off at school at 8am. I take Evie at 9:10. This gives me about an hour of quality one-on-one time with my precious little girl. This morning we had a tea party, pretend birthday party, and played candy land. Some days she chooses to watch tv - but lately she has wanted to play or have me read to her. Part of the time is spent trying to get her dressed and her hair brushed - but either way, I am very grateful for that morning time with her.

On the flip side, I pick Gavin up at 2:10. I pick Evie up at 3:20. So again, I get an hour with him. Sometimes we do homework (he usually finishes his week worth on the first day though), sometimes we play wii, sometimes I take a nap when he plays wii. Once in a while we go for walks or stay at the playground for a while. And sometimes we run errands (not much fun - but waaaay easier to do with just G).

So today I am thankful for the one hour I get each day with each of them.

We interrupt our thanksgiving countdown...

for this!!!

Due to the fact that I have no time or energy to handmake my Christmas cards this year (sorry folks), I heard about this great little give-a-way from Shutterfly. I LOVE shutterfly and their products - so I was thrilled to hear about this promotion. Of course, I had JUST ordered 100 of my own cards literally the night before I heard of this - but who can't use more cards?!?!

Shutterfly is giving away 50 free holiday cards to bloggers!!!! You can go to their site here. It doesn't matter how big or little your blog is...go and sign up! Who doesn't love free stuff? :-)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thanksgiving countdown #10...

Today's thankful post is a no brainer! In the words of the amazing Maya Angelou - "How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!" Today, and every day, I am forever thankful, forever grateful, forever awe inspired, by the American soldiers...past, present and future.

I have run across many great quotes about Veterans and Veterans day. But first a little history lesson. Many people get Memorial Day and Veterans Day confused. To make it clear, Veterans day celebrates ALL soldiers, living and dead. They recognize all service done honorably by the men and women of the US military.

There are 5 branches of the US military. The Air Force, the Marines, the Navy, the Army, and the Coast Guard. I have been privileged enough to have friends and family serve in all of them! And I am even luckier now to be a proud Air Force wife!!! I get to see the amazing-ness every day and to bear witness to the unselfish acts these people perform.

"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."
— John Stuart Mill (1868)

I understand that not everybody supports the war. Make love, not war, right? But it is these soldiers that give those people the right to have that opinion. These soldiers who protect their country in God-forsaken land in the middle of the night while others are home, in their beds, fast asleep - who give people their freedoms. It hurts me to the core to think there are people out there that think soldiers are nothing but the most amazing gift we have in our country.

"There are some who've forgotten why we have a military. It's not to promote war, it's to be prepared for peace."
President Ronald Reagan

Sure, protesters have every right to burn the American flag, to yell obscenities at heroes coming home from war, to carry signs that are meant for the soldiers to feel shame. But ya know what?!?! It was those exact people that they are yelling about that gives them the opportunity to express themselves in that way. Another awesome quote I saw was this:

“When you men get home and face an anti-war protester, look him in the eyes and shake his hand. Then, wink at his girlfriend, because she knows she is dating a p*ssy.” General Tommy Franks
(and anyone that knows me knows that I absolutely HATE that "p" word - but I still love the sentiment).

SO to end my post with yet another quote..."As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy. I vow to make every effort on this day (and always) to make sure all the veterans I know (or even don't know) understand how grateful I am for everything they (and their families) have done for me, my family and my country.

thanksgiving Countdown #9.5...

Bonus blog!!! I have been super thankful for my Japanese Culture Course I signed up for through the Family Readiness Center on base. It was supposed to be 10 weeks - but ended up only being 7. I got a special prize for attending all the nights :-)

Tonight, sadly, was our last night. I have learned so much throughout these past months. Seriously! Did you know that in Japan, dishes are sold in sets of 5. Not because their families are larger, but because their number for 4 is also the same sound as their word for death. So 4 is considered a bad omen. So they sell plates and bowls and sake glasses in sets of 5. I also have learned how to write my name in Kanji, how to make origami swans (1000 are made to bring good luck and health to a person), how to cook a few Japanese meals, and how to eat out on the town in a Japanese restaurant. I sang karaoke, watched a formal tea ceremony and made some friends on base also.

So, Group 1, I am forever thankful for you!!!

thanksgiving Countdown #9...

Today's post will be a trickle down effect. The waterfall effect. Whatever you want to call it...but it ultimately ends up the same. I am grateful for being a stay-at-home-mom.

I know the stigma for SAHMs is lazy, uneducated people who don't want a 'real' job. This, of course, is a thought by someone who has never been nor never known a SAHM. Sure, I can be lazy. But it is a rare day that I get to sit on my bum and watch soap operas (OK - most wednesdays (since it is Tuesday night in the states) I find time to skype with Ashli to watch gLee - but not always - and that is only for one hour). And I am not uneducated. I graduated with honors from high school and college. I have 2 Masters degrees (my MBA and then continues to also get my MBA in healthcare admin). I held a great job for 5 years.

I CHOOSE to be a stay-at-home-mom. This means we are able to survive financially on one salary (and, no, it is not the salary we will have when Patrick is a real doc - but it is manageable). And I am thankful for that.

I CHOOSE to be a stay-at-home-mom. This means I am able to attend most, if not all, functions at my children's schools. I can pick them up, drop them off, stay with them when they are sick, volunteer to help in their class and go on field trips with them. I can eat lunch once a month with them at school. I can be involved with the PTO, sports, activities and class projects. And I am thankful for that.

I CHOOSE to be a stay-at-home-mom. This means i gave up my Ann Taylor and Banana Republic suits and ended up with Old Navy sweatshirts and my favorite jeans. This, I am not always so thankful for, but appreciate anyway.

So today, I am focusing on the hardest job known to man (or woman), and being utterly and totally thankful for every aspect of being a SAHM that I have been through, am going to go through, and especially what I am going through now.

These pictures are from Family Lunch Day at Evelyn's school today.

Monday, November 8, 2010

thanksgiving Countdown #8...

Today I am thankful for my secret cleaning ladies! Seriously, they make my life so much less stressful. I know I am a stay-at-home-mom and should be able to clean my house anytime, all the time. But I don't. And I don't want to. I am not very good at it, and it makes me anxious. Yet, I always feel so much better when the house is clean. And Patrick LLLLLurves a clean house (typical Type A surgeon).

Patrick 'know's about these secret ladies, yet we choose not to discuss it because he hates paying someone for something that we could easily do. But when he saw how much happier we both are - I think he decided to turn a blind eye to it. Plus, I hate having him clean all the time when he is home because I want to spend quality time with him - not watch him scrub the shower.

And when I know they are coming, I clean too. As to not waste their time...I will start the laundry, do the dishes, put away clutter, pick up toys, technically I am cleaning too! (at least that is what I tell myself).

But it is such a joy to be able to go grocery shopping and come home to a miraculously clean house! I can type on my blog and the toilets are getting scrubbed. I can make dozens and dozens of cookies (before she does the kitchen of course) for the Base's Dorm Storm (where we take cookies to all the airmen in the dorms over the holidays) while the carpets are being vacuumed and the floors are steamed. I can totally relax knowing I have a few moments where the house is perfect - before the kids get home and crap it all up again. But I know deep down, the germs are gone, stains are cleaned, bed linens are fresh, dust is removed and floors are glistening.

And for that, I am truly thankful :-)

Thanksgiving countdown #7...

Today I am thankful for gorgeous weather. We have had some seriously perfect November weather here, and after reading about snow posts from Ohio, I am very grateful that we still have high 60 degree weather. Today I went golfing with some of the other ladies taking lessons and then again with my friend Lynn. I tried to stop at every hole and just take a breath (you never get to have that exact moment again - so I love when I can be "in the now" and truly appreciate That Moment). And gorgeous weather certainly aides in my ability to be "in the now" or "in the present" or "in the moment". It puts me into my Zen place very easily.

It was also nice when we had to take the train (about 70 mins each way) into the city for an audition for a modeling gig for IKEA. Evelyn and I went (and luckily ran into some other friends from Yokota) and it was nice to walk between stations and the photo shoot and to simply enjoy a little girls night out. I am crossing my fingers that we get as much of this weather for as long as possible!!!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

thanksgiving Countdown #6...

Today I am thankful for western civilization. It wasn't until I came upon this....

eastern public restroom that I realized how spoiled we are. And, of course, I took my kids into the handicap restroom so they could actually sit down. Seriously - how do you expect to do you business in this thing. The look alone made me want to vomit.

It also made me realize how nice our cars, shopping malls, restaurants, schools, houses, etc are! But - today I am eternally grateful for anywhere that has nice restrooms.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

thanksgiving Countdown #5...

Today I am thankful for all of the special activities they offer on base. This week alone we have been to Kids Klub (every wednesday night), First Friday (offered on the first friday of every month - the other fridays we usually go to make-your-own pizza or chilis), Viking Challenge and Oktoberfest. The base really makes a great effort to let people get involved with these things - at a very minimal cost.

Wednesday was Kids Klub, but we didn't stay long because Gavin was getting sick. But they have huge screens with tv shows, great food, and games with prizes for all. Kids are free - so it costs me about $9 total for the night. They have lots of food to choose from too!

Friday was the First Friday. They played Meet the Robinsons and Finding Nemo on big screens, had 2 jumpy houses, ice cream bar, kids karaoke and door prizes. Again, all for about $10.

Today (Saturday), Patrick participated in the Viking Challenge - a 12 hour run, alternating one mile laps between team mates. I think there were 8-12 people on a team...but it is still harder than it sounds. I tried to be 'sweet' and bring some donuts - but I guess people running as hard as they can for a mile don't really eat donuts in between miles. Oh well, it's the thought that counts! We went and visited Daddy a few times - but were a little bored by watching people run (especially if it wasn't Patrick). So the kids and I headed over to Oktoberfest. It was an absolute GORGEOUS day outside (sunny, high 60's, slight breeze) so it made for a wonderful afternoon. Mommy got some yummy beers (the only thing that you had to pay for) and the kids got to go on bounce houses, trampoline bouncers, make your own cookies, games, food, balloon guy, music, Yokota Idol, etc. Everyone had a great time - but I think Patrick is divorcing me because I kept sending him pics of my beers while he was running. Oops!

And tomorrow we are going with the ITT (travel company on base) to Mt Fuji for a safari ride. We meet early, take a bus and they take care of everything! It makes exploring Japan so much easier!

So I am grateful for all the effort put into the events on base. There really is something for everyone! I just wish that they didn't coincide on the same day - it would have been nice for Patrick to go to Oktoberfest with us!

It truly is such a great place to get involved as much or as little as you like. But the volunteers and organizers really make every event so much fun!!!

Friday, November 5, 2010

thanksgiving Countdown #4...

Today is your lucky day. I am writing about TWO things I am thankful for! Although they fall under the same general category of technology. Today I am thankful for Hulu and Skype.

Being so far away from home is difficult sometimes, even lonely. But with these two amazing products, I can stay in touch with loved ones and loved shows. Even though I have to wait a day, I can keep up to date with my fave shows. On my queue every week is How I met Your Mother, Modern Family, Cougar Town, the Office, Community, Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice. Glee is also a show I watch weekly - but I will get to that in a minute. I also like catching SNL and some other funny shows if I have time. But Hulu really has made life a little better here (it's sad, I know).

Skype is the other technological advance that I am grateful for. We have an American phone number, so I can call people all I want - but there is something about seeing faces, talking to a room full of friends, watching gLee (I told you I would get around to it) with my girlfriend Ashli in real time, and letting the kids see their friends and relatives and vice versa that you just can't get with a regular old phone.

These two beaut's have made my life a lot nicer in Japan. So, for that, I am thankful.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thanksgiving countdown #3...

Today I am thankful for friends. But not the generic "I am thankful for my friends". Today I am thankful for friends of friends. These little gems can be so helpful and handy in times of need. Friends of friends can be a great referral source. Seriously, how many times do you have a friend that says "My friend is a photographer (aka or and" or "my friend does great hair (aka Lindsey at Dublin Salon or Lindsey at Lennonheads or Leigh at Salon Rage)"? But today I am super thankful for my OLD (heehee) neighbor Christa (ok - she is not old in age - but was my neighbor in past tense). Her amazing referral to Award Technologies ( has saved my sanity a million times over.

Ward and Sylvia are very smart when it comes to the techy stuff and their customer service is amazing. Even when I live 7000 miles away, I can just call them up (they answer a lot of calls even up to 10pm EST or later) and they will talk me through it or access my computer remotely (with my approval of course). They are very reasonably priced also. I will totally refer anyone I know to them instead of some Nerd Herd (although I am sure they have their place in the world too).

So when you have a precious little friend who has a unique or special talent, or a great housecleaner, babysitter, preschool teacher or physician - don't be afraid to pimp them out! There are people out there just waiting for a good referral.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Thanksgiving countdown #2...

Today I am thankful for amazing scenery. Sometimes living on an Air Force Base can be pretty blah. All the houses/buildings are yellow with brown roofs. ALL. OF. THEM. There is only so much decorating and planting you can do to make it beautiful. But, to be in a place like Japan, surrounded by amazing mountain ranges and gorgeous foliage... it makes me thankful.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Thanksgiving Countdown...

In no particular order, I plan on writing about 1 thing I am thankful for per day (besides the, love, health, happiness).

Today I am thankful for zoos. I was totally spoiled living in Columbus (aka the #1 zoo in America) and experiencing all that it had to offer (ZooKids, WildLights, Jungle Jack, etc). But I am also thankful for the tiny zoos too. Claws-n-Paws in the Poconos, Elmwood Park zoo in PA, and the Hamura Zoo in Japan! These littler zoos still have tons to see, are usually shaded and way less crowded. They also offer some unique experiences, such as getting to hold these cute little guys or see giraffes this close up!!!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

coming soon...

many new posts! Patrick was in San Francisco with our laptop for almost 2 weeks so I haven't been able to access a computer to blog. I had my iPhone to check emails and such - but I will finally be able to catch up on here! We have done lots of fun things while daddy was away - I can't wait to share. BUT, I also want to spend some time with my honey, so please be patient :-)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

What a privilege!?!?!?

Today I got to be a witness to something so beautiful and emotional, I feel it is such a privilege to witness. Our friends, the Smiths (Estella is my friend, Xavier is Gavin's friend and Hailey is Evelyn's partner in crime and baby Hannah is just a joy for us all) were welcoming their Daddy home from a 4 month deployment. It was great to know someone who was experiencing it - but it was just as emotional seeing people I didn't even know. There were girlfriends, kids, wives, husbands, co-workers, etc who were all so excited for the homecoming. The nerves and excitement were palpable. From the moment we could hear the plane until the families were reunited - it was such an amazing experience!
Some of the pictures are of the Smiths, but a lot of others are of people I don't know. It was great to show Gavin what real heroes look like!