Saturday, September 18, 2010

Obstacle Course Park - lots of pics (sorry!)

I was rummaging through some of the suggestions for local activities to do with kids today and I cam across one for a roller slide park. These are huge slides with rolling pin type things throughout the slide that roll with the kids as they go down. I called my friend, Michele, to ask for directions or advice and she told me about ANOTHER park near here that they call the obstacle course park. Their family ended up joining us since they had only been once and wanted to go again! It was so much fun!!!

It was about a 15-20 minute drive - primarily because of all the traffic lights. Once we got there we parked and walked across the street into some woods. There were "stairs" built from wooden planks that led the way up a slippery steep hill. Along the way we passed teeter totters, walking beams, springy circle things, nets, webs, slides, forts, huts, zip cords, tree houses, hills, more stairs, bridges, ultimately ending up at a super cool playground area. It was so nice to be outside surrounded by gorgeous forests! It was totally worth all the bug bites we got! We did see some huge spiders too along the way - they even sounded like they were hissing at us!

The kids liked the huge slide the most. They kept running back up the stairs/hill to get back to the top. It was quite a work out! I am sure they will sleep soundly tonight! We also learned a valuable lesson on the zip lines....always test out how fast it is first on an adult!!! We learned this the hard way, sending Evie a bit too quick :-) She was a trooper though and shook it off! The picture I took of her is right before she hit the end of the rope and bounced back :-) We also learned that the mud is super slick - so always stay on the guided course! I think Michele and I ended up with the most mud on us from slipping down a few hills while not using the stairs.

I am so grateful to have friends to go on fun adventures with and teach us new sights around Japan. Thank E family!!! I also posted a picture of the road we take to get there. You can see how small it is and how close the truck is to us!

Early Birthday Gift

I was running errands on Friday and I stopped by the Officer Spouse Club's Thrift Shop. They had just gotten in 2 super cute pink and white (perfect for Evie's room) doll houses. They were about 3 feet tall and came with some Barbie Dream house accessories (even though it was not a Barbie looked custom built to be LIKE a Barbie house). One had the front door missing and they were selling it (with the inside furniture) for only $10!!! I quickly grabbed it for Evie's b-day gift and headed home.

Unfortunately, we needed space in our car to get some top soil so I had to bring in the house. We ended up giving it to her for an early gift. She played with it for hours (literally)! It was the best $10 gift we spent on her :-) She doesn't really have many Barbies (maybe one or two) so she used her Princesses (Barbie sized) as well as her mini-princesses to be used as babies.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Japanese Culture Groups

Tonight I had my first class (a 10 week course) for learning Japanese Culture. There were about 25 Japanese citizens (mostly from Olympus Company - cameras/optical) and about 25 Americans that were broken into 3 groups. I knew 2 other ladies in the class (which always makes things more fun :-) and we all ended up in Group 1. Everyone went around the table (Japanese folks first) and introduced ourselves and stated our hobbies. It was fun to watch and hear the Japanese speak in all English. Some were very good while others were just learning - but still very understandable. Some of them made handouts with their pictures (to help us remember them) with info about themselves. The guy next to me was an engineer in the microscope department as well as a virtual reality techy. He wrote "I wonder being friendly with you" - meaning he wants to become friends with us. A girl near us wrote "My smile is my charm point. I love watching the movie which title is 'Fast and Furious'". It was too cute!!!

After the introductions, one of the elder ladies performed a traditional tea ceremony. They taught us that it originated in China but was brought to Japan in the 16th century because it incorporated many zen customs. We learned how to look for signals from the host before we eat/drink. We learned how to place the tea bowl, rotate it before sipping, taking a 3.5 small sips and then giving feedback. The last sip should be a slurp to remove any remaining tea. Then we wiped the area where we sipped from.

Of course, I did not bring my camera (grrrr....) but I will try to find someone who did take pics so I can post some. Next week we are learning about calligraphy, then cooking Japanese Food, then origami, then out to karaoke, visiting Tokyo and finally a graduation ceremony! How fun does all that sound!!!???

The course is the most sought-after activity on base and you are actually only allowed to participate ONE time during your tour here. I am so glad I was signed up early :-)

I also signed up for another culture course with some friends. There will be 6 of us, and 6 Japanese women. We will rotate months (Oct will be on base...teaching them American culture, Nov will be off base...learning Japanese culture). So in Oct we will make a pumpkin craft, make caramel apples, eat chili and soup in breadbowls, and make some apple cider. Very American! We met today to create the schedule and activities for our months. I can't wait - as it seems like a truly intimate experience in Japan. We will be in their houses, their restaurants, etc and they will be in ours. So fun!

I am starting to get more involved with lots of things (Mah Jongg, golf, Bunco, PTO, etc) which is good. I love getting involved and feeling part of the community!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

how to make a house a home...

Start by putting pictures up!!!