And then there were 4...

And then there were 4...

Saturday, October 31, 2015


This year the branch decided to do a trunk-or-treat the day before Halloween, so lucky for us...we got to celebrate twice!  Dominik is obsessed with dressing up and candy (not that he likes eating it too much...just likes having it as an option I guess), and Parker is obsessed with having and eating naturally my kids would gravitate towards a love of the holiday.  This year Dominik wanted to be ninjas so I happily obliged.  I bought the boys costumes for pretty cheap and then I made TJ and I's out of some cheap sweat suits and a few cut up T-shirts.  I even painted on our last name in Katakana and "warrior" in Kanji on the front.  Pretty legit if you ask me!

The trunk-or-treat itself ended up being complete chaos.  There were three branches combined for the activity all crammed into one building that can barely hold one branch.  Then to add to it all...TJ had to sponser a new dentist coming to island so he had to leave right before the trunk-or-treat even happened.  I had to find a family for Dominik to join and trunk-or-treat with while Parker and I handed out candy by the car.

While it definitely wasn't my ideal situation with my family being separated and an overwhelming amount of people, the evening still ended up being fun.  I loved seeing how happy my kids were and their love of this creepy holiday.  Because of all the candy they even crashed on the way home!! 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Reunited at Last

The day after the wedding we were lucky enough to be able to meet up with our best friends from Okinawa.  This is the first time in our families existence that TJ's best friend was the dad (Troy), my best friend was the mom (Jessica), and Dominik's best friends were the kids (Jonah, Lydia, and Ryder).  We all have such a great time when we were with them and it was such a joyous reunion.  Even though it had been months since we had last seen the Hancocks we were able to pick up right were we left off; our conversations never skipped a beat!

We first met up for some Café Rio where the kids were able to run around and be loud without being obnoxious to the other patrons.  The Hancocks are lucky enough to live in America where wonderful restaurants like Café Rio are a dime a dozen.  Us Okinawans however are not so we had to take full advantage while in the states! 

After Café Rio we headed over to the strip to check out the Bellagio's fall gardens.  There are not too many things about living in Las Vegas that I miss...but I have to say that I do miss all the fun, free, and beautiful attractions that the casinos put together.  The kids seemed to enjoy themselves, especially as we perused over to the worlds largest chocolate fountain! 

When we had done every thing on the strip that was semi kid friendly (didn't take very long), we went a little ways south to a local shopping center with a huge (and free) kids play area.  The kids needed to burn off some energy and this was the perfect place to do it.  Us adults were able to sit and visit while the kids played too, so it was a win for everyone!

Saying goodbye was even harder this time because there will be a much longer span until our next reunion.  If I am thankful for one thing Okinawa has blessed me and my family with, it would be our friendship with the Hancocks.  Theirs will definitely be a friendship that lasts through the ages!!!
Of course on the drive home we had to stop for some In-n-Out!!  Another sorely missed restaurant!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

3rd Annual Pineapple Carving

For our third and final year here in Okinawa we decided to continue on with the tradition of pineapple carving.  Our first year here I was so bummed that pumpkins were either too expensive or too rotten to get and therefore ruining the fall season for me.  I absolutely love fall; hands down my favorite season.  However, I have to say that while pineapples started off being carved out of convenience, I now can say proudly that the tradition will continue long after we leave Okinawa.  Pineapples are so fun to carve...and not to mention, delicious!!  Even Dominik can carve his pineapple.  And instead of the laborious hour long venture to clean the pumpkin, a pineapple can be carved out in a matter of moments.  They also make the kitchen smell delicious!!

To carry on with the tradition we decided to carve on a Monday night and serve along with some mummy dogs.  The boys love eating hot dogs for dinner, and we all have fun talking about our pineapple faces and then lighting them up to see it all in action.  Such a fun tradition that will definitely continue on for years to come!!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Whirlwind of Traveling

After two weeks our vacation had finally come to a close.  We had taken multiple trains, planes, and automobiles; traveled across 2 countries, visited 2 cities and 2 families, and while the kids were energized and ready to power through, TJ and I could slowly feel our bodies powering down.  We originally wanted to fly out of Travis Air Force Base since TJ has yet to fly on a fun military plane...but the days that we wanted to travel just didn't seem to have any flights out.  We decided to roll the dice and test our luck flying back to SeaTac and trying to get on the Patriot.  This time of year typically proves to be a pretty good time to fly space A (space available) flights since it's just before the holidays and kids are still in school.  We had great luck getting out on the Patriot so we were pretty optimistic about our return.

We are so fortunate to have such amazing parents that take such great care of us.  Linda drove us into Vegas and ensured we were ready to go.  Then when we got to SeaTac my parents picked us up and drove us to the hotel.  We were able to venture around Seattle for the afternoon and evening and the kids got to burn off some energy.

My great grandparents lived near the SeaTac airport so we took a drive to see the old house. The house itself still looks the same, but wow is there a lot of new development all around it!!  It was fun to take a drive down memory lane.  After our little drive we headed over to the Westfield mall to check out the scene.  Low and behold there is a Round 1 just like in Okinawa!!  Crazy right!!  We were on a mission to get there, but the kids got distracted by the little play place in the middle of the mall and were content to just hang out there!  Win-win!!  They were happy and we didn't have to pay for them to play!!  Once the kids were sufficiently worn out we wandered around to check out the food scene.  We were so happy and surprised to find a Rainforest Café right in the middle of the mall!!!  We had promised Dominik that we would go in Vegas and he was devastated when it was closed and we couldn't go.  Talk about a successful redemption!!!  The boys both loved the scenery in the restaurant and for the first time in a long time they were both entertained throughout the entire meal.  Despite Parkers milk toss resulting in a huge mess, the dinner could not have been better. 


After dinner we did a quick jaunt in the pool and then it was off to bed for us!!  Wake up call came at 4am in order to be to the airport for a 5:30am roll call.  To say that we were nervous about getting on this once a week flight would be the understatement of the century.  If we didn't get on our plan B was to send TJ home on a commercial flight and then the boys and I would return to PDX and try the next week to get out on the Patriot; leaving me to fly alone with the boys (insert mom cry).  Through the efforts of many prayers and tender mercies, everyone made it on the plane who wanted to go!!  Such a blessing!!!

Saying goodbye for the second time knowing that the next reunion wont be for 9 months, was quite difficult!!  Mostly for Dominik and Grandma (they are just two peas in a pod).  I'm sure the next 9 months will go quickly...and I was ever so ready to be done travelling!!!

Starting off the trip right!!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Here Comes the Bride

The event we all had been preparing and waiting for finally arrived, and I think it's safe to say that relief was among one of the most prominent emotions.  Everyone worked so diligently to pull it off that I was so nice to see it all come together so beautifully!!  The colors were purple, grey, and white and the whole wedding party and family dressed to match.  The ceremony was beautiful and Latoya looked absolutely gorgeous!  Brian looked happier than I have every seem him, and Kamilla's excitement over even the smallest detail was infectious! 

After the ceremony there was about an hour for people to mingle while the final preparations on the food was made.  TJ was busily helping get things ready which put me on kid duty.  Dominik was playing with his cousins and I was trying my best to keep the "play fighting" at just a play stage...but boys will be boys, because the next thing I know Dominik is walking towards me with a bloody nose that had ran all over his shirt and tie.  Under normal circumstances a minor hit in the face with the ring bearer pillow would not have produced this much blood, however, my little island boy is not used to such a dry climate and his dry nose just couldn't sustain quite a blow.  The blood was stopped quickly and we did the best we could to lighten the blood stain on his stark white shirt, but not even the best effort could lighten the embarrassment he felt the rest of the night.

The reception was held at the Adam's home in Overton which is a multi-million dollar home in the center of the valley.  The place is so amazing that people frequently stop there thinking it is a casino.  The home has a HUGE patio area where tables and chairs were set up and it is all surrounded by a resort style pool.  The pool is complete with rock structures that waterfalls cascade off of, a slide that goes down the center, and the whole thing is lined with palm trees; quite the tropical paradise.  The kids had a blast climbing the rocks during the reception and the parents had equally as much fun placing bets on which kid would "accidentally" fall into the pool first.  Keeping the kids out of the pool was quite the feet but they were all promised that if they could stay out of the pool until the end than they could go swimming during clean up.  They all reluctantly obliged, but stayed out of the pool until the green light was given.  I didn't bring D's swim suit so undies is what he swam in.  They looked like a cute little European swimsuit though, so no one seemed to notice.

Dominik kept photobombing these photos so I couldn't get a clear shot :(

Overall the whole wedding from start to finish was a success.  Latoya and Brian were so happy and that was all that mattered; it made all those late nights and sore wrists from cutting vegetables totally worth it.  We are so grateful that Latoya and Kamilla have joined the family and can't wait to see Brian and Latoya's new family start to grow and blossom!!!!