And then there were 4...

And then there were 4...

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Time to Paint

Due to the fact that I have an incredibly active...and pretty clumsy 4 year old, I try to stay away from all things art.  It's not that I don't want Dominik to dabble in his inner creative side, but I just invision paint covering all of my walls, and hours upon hours of clean up time...for what? A few minutes of painting.  Not. going. to. happen.

However, my good friend Sheri put together a kids painting activity in a controlled environment with the affects of peer pressure forcing Dominik to be a clean and tidy little Picasso.  This activity is based off the girls night out activity where women get together and all paint the same picture while drinking wine and chatting.  What a great idea to adapt it to kids!!

There were 41 kids in total and each child got to pick one picture they wanted to paint.  Dominik picked the whale and lucky for him it was pre-drawn onto his canvas, all he had to do was paint within the lines...yeah...right!!

He did the best he could with his limited experience (totally my fault).  He spent all of 3.5 minutes entertained by painting, and was drawn away to play with his friends.  But all in all he had fun; and I was able to check it off my list!!

Friday, July 11, 2014

5 Months Old

I feel like a broken record when I say "I can't believe my baby is..." well now he is 5 months old...and I just can't believe it.  He no longer has that delicious newborn smell, and the ever so adorable newborn look; squishy face and all.  Now he is starting to get mobile, think on his own, understanding what he likes...and more importantly, what he doesn't like, and so forth.  My newborn has become a baby, and I'm not sure how I feel about it.

Newborn or baby, I'm completely smitten with him, and I can't remember what our family was like when we were a family of three.  He completes our family in every way, and we feel so blessed that he is ours!!

This month Parker started talking.  Like actually grabbing both of your cheeks with his hands and telling stories, voice influctuations and all.  He looks for the people he knows and then smiles when he sees them.  He finds Dominik hysterical, and when he sees him in a room the corners of his lips start to curl upwards in anticipation of something hilarious about to happen.  Parker is starting to eat more which we have combatted by introducing a 6oz bottle at night with a little bit of rice cereal.  He digests it well and he seems to sleep a bit better at night.  With that said though, he is starting to put himself down at 9pm every night and then wakes up at 4am for his feeding and then will go back to sleep until 7:30am.  We are still working on pushing that night time feeding until later and later, but I'm not thinking much will change until we start to introduce more solid foods.  He is growing bigger and bigger and is already growing out of his 6-9 month outfits.  He is pretty confident at rolling from tummy to back and back to tummy and can prop himself up on his elbows for long periods of time when he is on his tummy.  We are having so much fun watching him continue to grow and learn and can't wait to see what changes he will make this month!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Typhoon Neoguri

Well I feel as though I can officially say that I have experienced a true typhoon.  Granted it was only Category 3 and could have been a lot worse, there was still a great deal of loss and some major damage.  TJ and I prepared the best we could for the looming category 5 "super typhoon" that was headed our way by stocking up on water, non perishable food (no heat required to consume), entertainment, charged all electronics, replaced all batteries in flashlights, filled the bathtub with water, put gas in our cars, etc...  and going into the typhoon we felt pretty ready. 

We do live right on the coast, but on a bay that is relatively quiet.  We are also separated from the water by a small row of trees and they do a pretty good job of blocking the wind.  Our biggest fear was loosing water and power, but we felt pretty prepared that if either of those things were to occur, we would remain safe. 

Initially the winds picked up during the night on Monday and could be heard pretty loud; so loud in fact that we had difficulty sleeping.  Thankfully TJ knew he wouldn't have to go into work on Tuesday, so we were all able to "sleep-in" and wake up ready for whatever was to come our way. Neoguri hit pretty hard Tuesday at 10am with sustained winds of 80mph and gusts that reached 120mph.  We lost power around 10:30am and that's when things started heating up; literally!! 

We felt really prepared in terms of food, water, shelter, and entertainment...what we did not anticipate is how all of our moods would be effected by the heat and humidity.  We were all cranky, tired, and HOT!!  The heat probably affected me the most, but I naturally had the most bodies hanging on me between nursing, and a clingy 4 year old, I rarely had a moment to body had a hard time regulating. 

By Wednesday morning the most damage we had done to our home was a few trees in front of our house knocked down...leaving us with a much less obstructed view of the ocean...silver lining??  Across the island people suffered severe flooding, fallen trees, many road closures, and there were even a few obliterated buildings.  Lucky for us most of the infrastructure of Okinawa is cement and rebar buildings...the buildings that are mere drywall and 2x4's did not fare too well during the storm. 

Wednesday around noon our power came back on, and if I were to say that all 4 of us (yes Parker included) did our happy dance, would be quite the understatement.  We recognize that we were incredibly blessed during this storm and we know Heavenly Fathers protection was absolutely upon us.  We are so grateful for all those who prayed for our safety and would ask that you continue to pray for those who were not as fortunate.  There is still a lot to clean up on this island to restore it to her former beauty, and hope that we may not see another typhoon like this for a while!!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Celebrating Overseas

I don't think I will ever get used to how different it is to celebrate American Holidays from Japan.  The military tries so hard to make people feel like they are home for the holidays...but there are always limitations.  This year, the military set off their fireworks and had their big "Americafest" the weekend before the 4th of July and therefore left the 4th of July with nothing. 

A few of the surrounding bases did their own firework shows, but instead of walking around a hot and sweaty base all afternoon we all decided it would be much more fun to have our own beach party, and then head over to the base (Torii Station) just for the firework show. 

The day started off with a branch brunch down at our church building.  Luckily the brunch was inside and we were able to enjoy our patriotic songs and flag presentation from the comfort of our very air conditioned gymnasium.  The food was great, and I absolutely loved celebrating our nations independence with so many people who are currently serving in our military; fighting so diligently to preserve and protect what so many others gave the ultimate sacrifice and entrusted us with. 

After the brunch we headed over to Maeda Flats which is our local snorkeling spot.  The water was a bit murky, but we were still able to see lots of cool fish and sea life.  When we were not in the water we were enjoying good conversation with our family and friends, eating some yummy snacks, and just enjoying the nature that was all around us. 

Once the sun set we cleaned up camp and headed over to another beach where we thought we would be able to see the firework show.  As soon as we got there we were informed by another family that the fireworks didn't start until 10pm, which was way past everyone's bed time.  Mike, TJ, and Andy set off a few fireworks they purchased from the 100 yen shop the day prior and we called it a night.

Overall the 4th of July was pretty great.  We didn't get our usual firework show of epic proportions, but we did get to BBQ with family and friends, and thank our Heavenly Father for the beautiful country in which we are citizens of.  Living overseas definitely has its perks, and we love associating with the Japanese people, but we LOVE America!!!!!

Okinawa World

Okinawa World is a place we have been waiting to go to until family came to visit.  We tried to go with my mom, but decided that Parker was too newbie to be out and about in some caves.  Then we tried to go while Jana and Andy were here but we ran out of time.  Finally we made time for it while Grandma and Grandpa were still here.  Since it was down in Naha (southern tip of the island) it was quite a drive, but the activities are quite numerous so the time in the car was totally worth it.

We started off by checking out the snake presentation located in the Habu Museum.  Since we are in Japan all the shows and signs are in Japanese, which makes for a really "unique" time.  I'm sure what's being said is very interesting, but we have no idea what it is.  Lucky for us, a nice gentleman (in Kadena Branch) served his mission in Okinawa and was translating for his kid...we were in ear shot of the conversation and were privy to know what the presenter was saying!  Thanks Zach Rollins!!  The show was really cool and we learned a lot about snakes.  At the end of the show Mike, TJ, Dominik, and Parker got to hold a HUGE Python.  Parker giggled through the entire thing (come to find out, TJ was tickling him the whole time) was funny to see how TJ was more scared of the snake then his two sons; although he would never admit to that.

After the show we perused the Habu museum and learned even more about these slithery little creatures who are apparently all around us.  Just outside there is a little reptile "zoo" where you can pet turtles and check out a few more snakes.  Then into the caves we went.

Not only were the caves a HUGE reprieve from the intense heat and humidity, they were amazing to look at. The walk through the caves was about 1/2 mile of river, and beautiful stalagmites and stalactites.  TJ and I agreed that the Okinawa caves were a tad bit cooler than the Luray Caverns we went to last year in Virginia.

After the caves we walked through all the different merchant shops (VERY touristy), and then headed over to the Tokei drum show.  Again, the show was in Japanese and probably very interesting...unfortunately for us, Zach was nowhere to be found and therefore we had to just smile and nod as though we had any clue what was being said.  The drum show was a universal language and incredibly entertaining.  I'm still amazed at the cultural heritage that is passed down from generation to generation and how respectful people are of it.  This is definitely something that is lost in America. 

Once the drum show was over, everyone was pretty hot, sweaty, hungry, and really ready for some air conditioning.  We found a little restaurant within the facility and much to our great pleasure it was pretty cool.  We ordered one of everything, including the Habu Curry (had the "essence" of Habu)...and it was all delicious!!  Partly because I was pretty starving...partly because anything with the "essence" of Habu has to be tasty, right!!

Overall I really enjoyed Okinawa world.  There was a little bit of everything, and gave me another taste of the Japanese Culture.  I'm so sad that Mike and Linda have to leave so soon, but I'm so grateful for all the fun things we have been able to do with them!!