And then there were 4...

And then there were 4...

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Kindergarten Graduate

Seeing pictures over the last three years my mind is blown at how much Dominik has grown.  Seeing him everyday, I don't really notice it.  But when I look at where he was when we first got to Okinawa I can't believe how big he is.  Seeing him hold his certificate that said "Kindergarten Graduate" almost made me cry (in all honesty, I had really bad allergies that day and I actually had pretty watery eyes...Dominik thought I was emotional about his growing up and I think he thought it was endearing so we will just go with it).  He has worked so incredibly hard this year and is turning into someone that TJ and I are incredibly proud of.  Dominik is resilient and persistent, he loves fiercely and is empathetic to anyone in need.  He has an incredible memory and if he learns something once he is hard pressed to forget it.  Dominik fights for the underdog and is kind to everyone he meets.  We are so grateful for his teacher this year - Mrs. Palazzo - and her dedication to teaching Dominik.  She was firm and loving...just what Dominik needed to push him to be his best.  I can't wait to see how he continues to grow as a big ol' first grader!!

Dominik's bus mates Jerry and Lydia (not pictured, Madison and Zoe)

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Wrapping up Oki

Sitting in the airport about to leave Oki I find myself in a bit of a haze.  How did 3 years pass by so quickly?  How did my babies age 3 years?!  Despite my lack of luster for all things ocean and sand, we have all really come to love life here in Okinawa.  Here are some of the things that we will sorely miss:

-Friends...we have made some amazing friends here in Oki and it makes us so sad that we won't ever see any of them (except the Laytons who are coming to SoCal with us) on a regular basis again :(

-Living by the ocean...while I don't love the ocean I love how happy it makes TJ and the boys.  I love seeing the joy in their eyes every time we go!

- Family mart...there is seriously a convenience store on every corner.  Being a mom and having delicious food and beverages so readily available has been so nice!

-Okinawan people...Japanese people in general are so humble, kind, and hard working.  In addition to all these qualities, the Okinawan people here are also laid back and easy going; they have been so wonderful.  They are always loving on my kids exclaiming "Kawaii (cute, adorable), and bowing to show respect.  They really have made our time here so much better.

-Daiso...this is like the dollar store on steroids.  There is so much goodness in these stores and for only 108 Yen (the equivalent of $1).

-Restaurants...there aren't too many restaurants that I love here but the ones that I do love...I LOVE!  I'm really going to miss yaki-niku, shabu-shabu, ramen by my house, and Hungry Tacos.

There are many more little things that I will miss but these are the highlights.  These are the things that have gotten me through missing family and the conveniences that come with living in the USA.  And while there are many things that I will miss, there is quite a few things that I won't miss.  Those things include:

-Creepy crawlies...there are so many bugs, rodents, and snakes here that I can no longer handle it.  They are in full swing now with it being summer and it's driving me crazy!!  Huntsmen spiders are the worst (they are the size of my palm and run and jump!).  However, the 2 large rats that took up residence in the garage as of late are not too far behind!

-The ocean...the ocean has made it onto both miss and will not miss lists.  Visiting the ocean and seeing my family's joy is one thing, but living on the beach and constantly having the beach be brought into my home will not be something I miss.

-Lifestyle...I'm all for lackadaisical beach life, but it's starting to get tiring.  The Okinawan's are wonderful but they have no hurry in them at all.  I enjoyed the slow life our first year here...but with two kids and living so far away I wish there was some sense of urgency to get places quicker.

-Red lights...street lights here are not on sensors, they are on timers.  This means that every 2 minutes or so the lights change, despite there not being any cars waiting to turn.  Between my house and the main military installation (where the grocery store is) there is about 50 lights.  Imagine waiting at even 1/2 of the lights when they are red.  On top of that, you're waiting so that no cars can go though.  It is simply infuriating and it makes my drive twice as long.

-Lack of produce...I thought when we moved to a tropical island there would be an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables.  When we arrived and realized it was only a "sub"-tropical island we were a bit disappointing.  Fresh fruit and vegetables (aside from squash...Okinawan's love their squash) can only be purchased when in season and vegetables and even then they are still expensive.  $4 for 8 strawberries, $4 for a mango, etc...produce is also really expensive and because of the long shipping time to get here they are all usually about to rot.  Cilantro the other day was $3.19 for a bunch (not a metaphorical bunch, but one little bunch). Crazy!

There might be more things that I won't miss, but I'm trying to dwell on the good things.  Okinawa has been so good to our family and I want to remember all the good times.  We will leave this place with no regrets and only good memories to hold onto.  Our family grew by one member and because of the lack of extended family around us we learned to rely on our little nucleus.  I know that San Diego has great things in store for us, but part of our heart will always be here in Oki!!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Spring Recital

After almost 9 months of practice and complaining about practicing...Dominik's spring piano recital was finally here.  Since TJ has been fervently studying for his FMF (fleet marine force warfare officer boards) he hasn't had too much time to practice, but Dominik was still able to play a very polished "Cheers."

His teacher Mrs. Nielsen was so good with Dominik and taught him how to love the piano.  He still likes to complain when it's time to practice, but I think that's a natural progression for any musician!  We love hearing the sound of music in our home and while it's a little choppy and quite still is a lovely sound!!