Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Day 21

I am thankful for skype. It really is so much better to see a person's face than to just hear their voice. I love skyping with my parents and Patrick's parents, skyping with Patrick when he is away from us, and skyping with my girl Ashli every week to watch gLee. I especially love having skype on my iphone so I can talk to people anywhere in the world!!! This morning I had an email from Patrick saying he had 5 minutes to skype so I whipped out my phone, parked in a lot, and we chatted!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Day 20

Today I am thankful for my childrens' music teachers! As I write this, Evelyn has started playing the Star Spangled Banner (from ear - no music sheet and she was not taught this...but has learned enough to know which notes are correct), Jingle Bells (she does have music for) and Star Wars theme song (again, by ear). When Gavin gets home, he will join her and they play together. They have created a band named 'The Rockin' Bulls'. I am NOT a musical person - but I love hearing them play (and play well). Patrick is thrilled they each have a musical passion since he played trumpet most of his life. Thank you Ms Brooke and Mr McFadden for encouraging my kids and teaching them a love of music!!!!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Day 19

This on is I am thankful for HEAT! You heard me, just having heat in my house finally is consuming my gratitude today! Twice a year, every year the base goes through a 'no heat/no cool' period. This year was scheduled Oct 15-Nov 15. Towards the end it started getting really chilly. Even with space heaters I found myself sleeping with sweatshirts and socks (a total no no in my book) and the kids had at least 4 blankets on them at all times. I counted down the days until Nov 15...and then nothing. We got another warning saying it could be another week! So each day it has been getting colder and colder until today...I walked in from running errands and did a happy dance in my warm house!!! I called my neighbor to celebrate as it truly is a wonderful thing to have HEAT! It makes me realize how lucky we are that we can turn it on and off whenever we want...while others don't have any. I am very thankful for this simple pleasure.

Day 18

Today I am thankful for beautiful fall days in Japan. The colors of the trees are amazing this time of year! It can rival the most picturesque areas in all the world. Today we ventured out to the roller slide park and Okutama mountains for a wonderful adventure. The roller slides were super fun and the kids kept running back after they were done shouting "AGAIN! AGAIN!" They wore themselves out!!! Next stop was Okutama area. I wanted to go to a sake factory to get Christmas presents and to walk along the majestic river front area. It was perfect! The kids loved it and we spent hours enjoying the scenery. An additional gratitude was running into a friend from base. She speaks fluent Japanese and totally helped order all my sake for me...even asked for boxes (which were not really part of the deal). I am so grateful she made the process so much easier :-)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Day 17

I posted about this in my first thankful post...but wanted to wait until I had some pics to share with it. But, I am EXTREMELY thankful for the organizers of the awesome Hero's Triathlon that was held here on base last month. My kids were so excited to sign up for it. I was a little torn because it was the same date as Patrick's Combat Endurance Challenge...but I knew it was important for them to do something like this. Being able to foster their enthusiasm for this healthy event was something I was not about to pass up! I knew it would benefit them physically, mentally and emotionally. They were so proud when they signed up...I knew it would be an awesome day for them when the actual tri came! And it was :-)
When the day came, it was a bit chilly and gray. But that didn't stop the 100+ kids to come out and participate! They had different age brackets that had to compete in differing lengths. Evelyn had a 50m swim, 1 mile bike and 1/2 mile run. Gavin was 100m swim, 3 mile bike, 1 mile run. All the kids were sooooooo well behaved and so encouraging to the other kids. It brought tears to my eyes watching the positive characteristics flowing out of these kids. It was really inspirational. And to know my kids were a part of it made me proud. And to top it off, ALL the monies raised went to a non-profit charity to help stop human trafficking called the Polaris Project. I am so very thankful that people are willing to volunteer countless number of hours and energy to help kids and help a wonderful cause! Oh...and ALL the kids got these awesome medals! The 1st, 2nd and 3rd (girl and boy) in each division also got a trophy. There was a DJ, bouncy houses, games, food, etc - totally can't wait for the next one!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Day 16

Today I am grateful for the lovely friends I have made in my Peace Lily Culture Group. I have been fortunate to be in 3 different groups and have loved my experiences in each one! Today, we hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for our ladies. We had all the usuals (well, almost all) that completed a Thanksgiving feast. I made the turkey (I borrowed my friend Lynn's electric roaster and I will NEVER cook a turkey any other way now), some hot spiced apple cider and a Pumpkin gooey butter cake. I woke up at 6 to start the turkey but it was worth it :-) We also helped them decorate Christmas cookies (Lynn baked dozens of cookies with 4 different frostings) and made a cute craft (picture coasters). After lunch we sang songs, played games, ate desserts (we had a professional baker on hand who made a toffee cheesecake - Lord help me - as well as an award winning apple pie) and we sat in a food coma and chatted....just like real Thanksgiving!!! We also taught them how we go around the room and speak of what we are thankful for. Needless to say...we were ALL thankful for the friendships formed in that group!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Day 15

I am grateful for the great teachers we have had so far in my children's education. Today, I was lucky enough to sit with Gavin's awesome teacher for over 30 minutes to discuss his progress and accomplishments. She creates portfolios for the kids to showcase their work through the year and take pride in what they have done. And she doesn't poo-poo if there are areas that need improvement or need to keep an eye on further. Gavin excels academically (usually) so we also want to make sure he is being challenged and not creating problems if things are too easy. So far, so good! The PTO has purchased some awesome software that they can do for homework that tracks their progress also and can deepen their knowledge on a subject instead of just increasing the amount of subject matter once they compete a level. His teacher pointed out the importance of this concept and I am grateful for it being implemented in her classroom. And although I enjoy being part of his education (and Evelyn's), I can rest assured that he has had the best of the best teachers so far!!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Day 14

Every year on this day, I have to be grateful for my mom and dad and their 'oops' that was born on this day 23 years ago. My sister, Kaitlin, has brought so much fun and joy to our family...and is truly one of my best friends. We have gotten even closer over the years (as she is going to my college alma mater and is in my sorority) so we have so much more to bond over! She has also gotten pretty cool and funny and is fun to grab drinks with! But my favorite is snuggling with her on mom's couch watching friends or Grey's. Have fun in Vegas - and STAY SAFE!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Day 13

I am grateful for being able to be part of wonderful 'spouse' organizations. My passion for these types of groups started when Patrick was in residency. I saw the real need there was to support the significant others' of the hard working residents. Not many people understand what it is like to be in your shoes during these times. Many people think "Oh you are a Doctor's must be rich". HA - FAR from the truth! Or some people don't understand how you can plan vacations or holidays or nightly dinners without your other half. But when you are amongst others in the same situation, there is a peace that comes with knowing you are with people who understand. Today, I am grateful to not only be part of the Yokota Officers' Spouses' Club - but to be their President. I was filled with pride as our members donated TABLES full of toys and canned goods for local charities. Also, when we were able to raise over $1250 from a silent auction (with items/baskets donated from members)for Operation Warm Heart which helps our own community in times of need. And I was almost moved to tears to watch our group help the red cross in sorting holiday cards for our service members. It truly was a great way to get ready for the craziness of the holiday season...and to start off on the right foot of giving.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Day 12

Today I am thankful for 3 day weekends. Especially ones where Patrick is NOT on call! And where the weather is perfect one day (great for outdoor fun), miserable another day (indoor fun) and in between on the next (either outdoor or indoor). This weekend found us heading to Mt Fuji on Saturday for family pictures. The weather was amazing, the scenery was perfect and the kids were being great. It was totally an awesome day. I can't wait to get our pics back as the setting was 'picture-perfect' and the time of day had the sun setting for the perfect lighting. After our pics we stopped at the BEST burger place in Japan, Moosehill Burgers. HIGHLY recommend it! Sunday was pretty miserable outside. We stayed in and worked around the house, watched The Great Pumpkin and Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, and wrapped presents (they have to be mailed this week to guarantee Christmas delivery). Sunday night, we got a babysitter and Patrick and I headed out for a date night! We went to an indoor go kart racing stadium that is pretty close to base. What a fun time we had!!! We raced together once (he let me beat him on one lap - then he took off and ended up lapping me...TWICE!). Then he did a round by himself and a round with some other Japanese guys. He was loving it - and it was a good break for him. Then we went to a late dinner at a yummy Italian base right outside the base. We were home by 10...but it was still fun to be fun again :-) On Monday we celebrated Veteran's Day. It was iffy as a family, we decided to go to Round 1 for 3 hours of crazy fun! Our friends the Webbs and Odoms came also which made it even better. The girls would watch the kids so the guys could play, then the guys watched the kids so the girls could go to the "Relax" room. The kids had 3 hours of non-stop fun! And we are topping it off with a BBQ to finish off the long weekend! It was only 3 days - but we packed in a LOT of fun!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Day 11 - more military

"On Veteran's Day we honor Soldiers who protect our nation. For their service as our warriors, They deserve our admiration." Thank you to all who serve and have served. I am grateful for you everyday.

Day 10

I am grateful for the Marines. They helped mold some of the greatest men and women who will ever have had walked this Earth. One of my first heroes, my dad, is a proud Marine. And another one of my heroes, the man in the picture is one of my favorite people I have known...Brad. I am not even going to get into the amount of love and respect I have for them...but I know part of it is due to the training the received as a Marine. Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But, the Marines don't have that problem. Ronald Reagan, President of the United States; 1985

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Day 9

Today I am thankful for FRIDAYS! I mean, everyone loves Friday because it means the weekend is coming...but I love Fridays because of my agenda on most fridays. After taking the kids to school, I mosey over to the Starbucks and meet up with friends for coffee (or chai latte in this case). Then after hanging out for a while I head to the OClub for a little Mah Jongg. We play for hours, sometimes have lunch there and keep playing, or sometimes head home a little early to get a nap in or run errands. On the 3rd Friday of the month I have my Peace Lily Culture Group that I love! I am booked solid with volunteer duties for YOSC or school stuff or family obligations from Sat-Thursday...but Fridays are MY day. :-)

Day 8

Tonight I am super thankful for my English classes that I teach. Every Thursday night, I drive off base (about 15 mins) and meet with 10-15 Japanese adults. They are very high-level English speaking and also highly educated. They listen to a 3 minute segment of the AP News and translate/dictate what they think is being said. They each take turns and read a few sentences and then I read what is actually being said. We discuss any vocabulary issues (i.e. snarled), phrases they don't understand ('politics make for strange bedfellows'), and the topic in general (the news segments are from a week prior so they have a week to translate, look up words, tonight we spoke about Hurricane Sandy mostly, with a little pre-election paragraphs too). I need to do research before class so it keeps me up on current world topics and I also get to learn a lot about the Japanese views on Americans, as well as their views on their own country. It is truly the best culture exchange as we are open and honest with great dialogue - even if our views are not the same. I think I get as much out of it as they do! I also privately teach a sweet lady on Mondays. We have become very close and she is one of my favorite people in Japan :-) She has shown significant improvement in her English as well, so I am thankful I could be part of her learning!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Day 7...

Today I am thankful for a good example my parents (and Patrick's parents) set for both of us growing up. We were taught to work hard, be proud of our achievements, and that we were not entitled to anything without earning it. Both of us had jobs at 16 years old and held part time ones through college. Even though we were fortunate that our parents paid for most of college (from hard earned money that they worked for), we still had to earn good grades, contribute back to society, and learn how to live on our own. We were able to find careers we were passionate about. We loved working and enjoyed the benefits of our hard work. We also learned valuable lessons about saving money, being on a budget, and not being codependent on anybody else. We never expected instant success and we knew it was something that needed to be earned. Both of us took jobs with salaries well below our friends because we knew we could work hard and get to places we wanted to be in a profession we enjoyed. And we both succeeded. We both watched our parents' faces light up when we graduated...from our universities, from our MBAs, from medical school and lastly, from residency. They were proud of our achievements - but I think more than anything, proud that they raised children WITHOUT entitlement. Children who appreciated their successes. Children who would be a positive influence in society. Now that we are parents, we hope we are instilling these virtues in Gavin and Evelyn. We try to teach them responsibility to help themselves, to help others and to help others help themselves. "Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime." We want them to work hard and have positive reinforcements....because it is prideful. It always feels better to earn something on your own than to be given it. They have a piggy bank (from Edward Jones financial) that has multiple slots in it for spending now, donating to charity and saving for the future. No matter what the results from the election, I KNOW we will always be hard workers. We will always care about our value in society. We will always strive to be helpful and charitable. We will always care more about our 'things' because they are ours and were not handed to us without earning it. We will value our time and resources and hope that someday our children will understand how important it is to instill these attributes in their children, just as Patrick and I are understanding it now.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Day 6 of thankfulness

Today I am thankful for having friends in the medical field. Not that we expect any extra attention, or super powers....but it is nice to be able to talk to people on a real level, text them anytime with questions or concerns, send an xray to them from 8000 miles away, etc. We all know how scary any medical procedure can be, so I am thankful when friends can put you at ease. Today, for example, Patrick had his wisdom teeth pulled. Our good friend Kyle was the surgeon to do it. I picked Patrick up and took him home - but realized I had a bazillion questions to ask him. So I grabbed my iphone and started texting so I could get some quick answers :-) Fortunately, he was able to text back right away and spell out everything I needed to know. Unfortunately, Patrick (and most doctors) are the worst patients, but I was able to get him to eat something, take his meds and go to sleep!!! This has happened on many occasions (I owe my pediatrician friend Anita a million dollars with the amount of phone calls about my children)...So thank you to all our physician and dental friends out there who have helped us in one way or another!!!

Day 5 of 30 days of thanks

Today I am thankful for being able to find a good hair stylist wherever I move! I know this is a silly, selfish one...but all the ladies know what I am talking about. It took a good year every time I moved somewhere new to find someone, but once I did... I latched on! I was fortunate enough to start in college with my good friend, Leigh, who followed her passion to beauty school. I was a faithful clients for years until I moved away to Ohio. I would even make the 7 hour drive back to PA sometimes - just because I needed some color. Then, I serendipidly (I think I made up that word) met Lindsey. We had mutual friends and her hubby started shadowing Patrick at work and in talking I found out that she worked at a hip hair salon across town! SCORE! But then she had to move away (so said hubby could go to med school) and then I was introduced to another I didn't skip a beat :-) Another fun, awesome stylist who took care of me. The hardest transition in hair care came when I moved to Japan. The salon on base was less than optimal (from reviews around base) but I tried it and did not like. And I even tried the Aveda salon off base (which was a HUGE fail that left me with greenish grey hair that got covered up with orange). And then, an angel sent from Heaven appeared in Dusty (Urban Girl Hair Design). A friend had recommended her, and then as I saw the hair color of a few of my friends DRAMATICALLY improve... I knew I had to have her. It has been a year now and I still <3 her. She is booked beyond belief (#1 because she is the only licensed stylist on base and #2 because she is wickedly cool and #3 because she does amazing hair) so I am grateful that I am able to get an appointment (at least for the time being :-)!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Day 4 continued...

Day 4 is full of thanks for electronic-free fun!!! Although I swear my kids learned to read and write from their leapfrog's and ds's...I am very grateful for old school fun of playing outdoors. Kick the can, flashlight tag, hunting for signs of the raccoon dogs, archery, roller coastering on golf carts, playgrounds, hiking, exploring, tossing a football or frisbee, biking....the list could go on.
Silly kids :-)
Exploring the bomb shelters.
Running through bamboo tunnels.
Miniature Golf.
One of my favorite shots of the weekend :-)
Swinging on some cool vines!!!

Days 3 and 4 of thanks

Sorry for the late post - but this weekend we went to one of our favorite places around here, Tama Hills, for a great weekend getaway. Patrick was to race in the 30th Annual Tour De Tama mountain bike race on Saturday morning (along with some of our friends) so we got cabins on Friday and Saturday nights to make it a fun adventure! Since it is in the woods - we didn't get any wifi or I couldn't post until now. It was great since we all went electronics free (except for the occasional iphone check when we could get a signal :-)! So....without further thankful lists day 3 and 4 (separate post): Day 3 I am thankful for weekend getaways! Whether just our family, with friends, or expended family...I love a chance to get away from our normal routine. Patrick REALLY needed to get away ASAP and this weekend did not disappoint! Friday night:
Smores and beer!
Kyle and Patrick prepping for the race. Saturday:
Homemade signs to cheer on Daddy!
(panoramic pic from my iphone5) Cheering on Daddy during the race.
2nd Place!!!!
We Love Daddy!
Fun in the hottub!
The kids mesmerized by 'My Neighbor Totoro' while the parents cooked. * Not pictured...The adult Webbs, Odoms, Smiths and Bulls cooking, grilling (dinner and dessert), chatting, eating, playing and hot tubbing.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Day 2 of Thanks

Today I am grateful for being able to experience Halloween in Japan! Although the Japanese don't officially celebrate Halloween, they LOVE the holiday. They have decorations in the stores, sell candy, etc - they just don't dress up and go door-to-door like we do. So as part of culture exchange, it is common for us Americans to invite our Japanese friends onto base to celebrate with us. I love it is great to see so many people get excited about it here too! I remember growing up in Warminster, PA and having so many kids on the block! We would have a ton of kids trick-or-treating together and it was always so much fun. But slowly, the kids grew up and there were less and less kids going door-to-door. It made me sad... Then, when I had my own kids, I loved dressing them up and parading around in OH. But nothing would prepare me for what I would experience here at Yokota. Literally THOUSANDS of kids on base plus their Japanese friends = CRAZY AMOUNTS OF TRICK-OR-TREATERS! The first 2 years here Patrick was away on business so I had to do it on my own. I would run the kids around to a few houses, then come back to hand out candy. We were warned to get 800+ pieces of candy...but that only lasted about 1 hour!!! It was a nonstop stream of kids...melting my heart :-) The best part was hearing the Japanese kids trying to say "tricko-treato", "happy harroween", and "tank you". But this year, Patrick was home to hand out candy and I invited my Japanese friends and children to come with us. We carved pumpkins, had a BBQ and went out for an hour. By the time we came back, Patrick was out of candy and we turned off the porch lights! Another amazing adventure in Japan!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012's been a while

I know...I know. I stink at this blogging thing. BUT - It is November 1 and I have been reminded about my 30 days of gratitude attitude! So, for my first gratitude post...I am grateful for the one who reminded me about it :-) This is Deanne. She be crazy. Girl be trippin. (These are all fun things I like to say around her). She is Patrick's orthopedic partner's wife and she is so cool. My favorite thing about her is how she gave up her secret Identity this past weekend at the triathlon. She has been living quietly as Mrs Incredible, but finally revealed herself to cheer on all the kids participating in this amazing event (which will probably be my 2nd grateful posting :-). Thank you Deanne! I am grateful to have you in my life :-)

Sunday, March 11, 2012


I think I fixed the computer. So I will try to upload the tons of pics and start keeping up again. Many fun things will be happening. Plum Blossoms, Cherry Blossoms, Spring Break, Dad's visit, my birthday, azaleas....All expected before the end of April. STay tuned.

Monday, February 27, 2012

i'm so bad

I am awful. I know it. But for some reason - I hate to blog if I don't have pictures. And I can't upload pictures because my memory is full on my computer. And I bought a hard drive to try to make space - but I am computer illiterate. So it hasn't worked. And I can't upload any more pictures. Even from our AMAZING, BEST EVER, CAN'T TOP IT, ski vacation. Or seeing the one-of-a-king Snow Monkeys on our home from ski vacation. Even pictures from my NEW fancy schmancy camera that I got from Santa - or pics of the kids from Christmas morning. Even from our super-cool, ridiculously fun, wonderfully unique trip (with some of our favorite people in Japan) to Sapporo for the Snow and Ice Festival where we got to go to the Sapporo Beer Factory for dinner, go snow rafting (totally fun), and see world class competition in snow/ice sculptures. Or from our romantic, annual Valentine's special weekend in downtown Tokyo - complete with an 8 course meal and a trip to the highest aquarium in the world.

Maybe in March when things slow down a bit I will get it all figured out. But for now - please accept my apologies. I know you are on the edge of your seat waiting for an updated blog post from me.