Friday, September 24, 2010

Saturday Morning Cartoons...

It's Saturday morning here in Okinawa and look what's playin' on AFN (Armed Forces Network, out TV programming!)... Powder Puff Girls. Not exactly the cartoons my kids were looking forward too, but it's all we got!

Hope your Saturday starts better than ours...
I think I may institute our home a PPG Free Zone!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Did you know?

Did you know that PE and Health classes are NOT required in middle school at all? Yes, they have to be offered, but students are not required to either class before "graduating" into high school? Do you see a problem here? I also just received an email stating the "DoDEA has restricted all middle schoolers from participating in sports".

Wait did I read that right, I had to reread that email several times to make sure my eyes weren't deceiving me. That's what it said... so while childhood obesity is on the rise in our country we are going to take away participation in middle school sports because (and I quote!) ...

"Middle school students often lack the physical development, maturity and judgement of older students."

I would love to hear your opinions on this... do find this a valid reason? Does it make sense to you? Chime in... I need to hear from you!

Pages from a Menu...

Here are just a few pages from the menu of a restaurant we recently fell in love with! Granted we didn't necessarily eat what we are showing you, but believe the food was divine... definitely a place we'll revisit again and again over the next 35 months! Enjoy... bon appetite!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Monster Snail...

Look what greeted Mark this morning just outside our front door! It's a huge snail... Gross! Things might be bigger in Texas, but I've never seen a snail this large before!

Escargot anyone?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Weird things you may or may not see everyday!

The photos below are in no particular order. They are simply snapshots the kids or I have taken over the past couple of weeks. I'll do my best to explain what they are... some are weird; others just part of everyday life on Okinawa.
The Ryukyuan people are known for ancestor worship. This is a family tomb. Sometimes there are several lined up (Mark's says those are like an American cemetery), in other areas they are just scattered all over the landscape. They range from beautiful and exquisite to old rundown and unkempt. These are found on the side of a twisty old country road that we take often near our home. Look at the color of this drink, it's Melon Soda. It's very popular over here, tastes pretty good too. The locals make eating at a fast food restaurant a pleasure. They serve their drinks in glass glasses and fries in ceramic bowls. It's so quaint. This particular place is called Mos Burger! The kids loved it, we loved it, it's our new favorite fast food place! Their burgers were soooo yummy w/ just a hint of local flavor.
This is a local farm. Many of the farmers cover their crops to keep them safe from all the bats. I've seen uncovered crops lined with lights to scare the bats away. I can't wait to hit the local farmers market next week... it's harvest time.

It's a Hover Round... we take this crazy tight side road to church and to get to other parts of the island (saves us 10-15 minutes off our commute). I was driving home from Kadena the other day and discovered this extremely elderly woman climbing this steep hill on her Hover Round. It was hilariously scary!

Here is the beginning of the crazy road shown above. I don't know if you can tell how narrow the road is... but two cars are supposed to fit down here! I also passed a semi on this road earlier this week, I practiced my Lamaze breathing techniques!
Kids are the same no matter what country they are from... I love this photo, because I know what happened right after I took it. Two boys started fighting, all the others gathered around and cheered on the underdog. I didn't get to stay to see how it turned out, my light turned green and I had to keep moving. If you notice many of these kids carry what look like hard or solid looking backpacks. Those cost about $100 each, but they have a GPS tracker built into them. The parents can look anytime on line and see where their children are, which is very important. The local children ride public buses to and from school or they walk, there are no school buses around here.
Out driving around I found this store, I believe it's a "fancy smanshy" lighting and interior design shop. I also knew my son would love this photo... just had to do it!
I think I shared with ya'll before about these stickers, but in case you have forgotten. The green and yellow stickers that look like a book are placed on the cars of all drivers who have had their license for less than a year... beginner drivers! The upside down tear drops (orange and yellow) are placed on the cars of all elderly drivers (I do not know who constitutes elderly but Mark almost slept on the sofa for trying to get me one!) This car scares me... they are both old and new!
Everyday in Okinawa is a new adventure filled with the unexpected.
I hope you enjoy the journey as much as we do...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Remembering 9-11

I guess one could say we homeschooled this weekend. I know many of you are asking... what are you talking about? Mark asked the kids if they knew what was significant about September 11. None of them had any clue as to why that day had changed America forever. After asking a simple question like, "Why are we at war in Afghanistan?" It dawned on us, Katie was not even one and the boys just 2 when 9-11 occurred, but they've been in school for the past 5 years or more. So why haven't they talked about this event. Why haven't we ever talked about this event. On one perspective I never brought it up or truly educated my children about this because I was worried how they would deal with all of Mark's deployments. I've always down played the seriousness and danger involved in his 'adventures'. I wanted them to have as normal as possible childhood, sheltering them from the harsh reality of the life we live as a military family. That all changed this weekend, Mark sat down with them and explained in detail the events of 9-11. He showed them news coverage, videos and opened up his heart as to why he does what he does for living and how important it is for the future of our Nation. As all of this was going on, I sat quietly in the other room, holding back tears. Tears for those lives that were lost because of 9-11 (past, present and future). And more tears because I could hear in the innocent voices of my children that their hearts and minds were forever changed because of that one event, that much needed conversation between them and their dad. The reality of our lives laid out to them, an open book. I felt the fear, the concern, the worry that they will for always carry with them.

We as a family will never forget, thank you to all who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our Nation's freedom, my freedom.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Okinawa Style...

I know you may not enjoy the song, but it is Miley Cyrus, she's great if you are like 10! Moving past the music the sights on the video are excellent, photo shoots taken all over Okinawa. So sit back and enjoy the view we see everyday! It truly is beautiful...

Monday, September 6, 2010

Adjusting to Okinawa...

Yeah, it's really hard to live on an island when the beaches look like this! The water is so clear on this particular side of the island. This is the Pacific Ocean side, this is also the side we live on! It truly is amazing the difference in the water, the colors and the clarity. Breath taking is what it is!

We've been asked at least 3 times a day since we arrived on the island "How are you adjusting to Okinawa?" Truth be told nope not yet, but we are learning the roads, the traffic and are actually remembering to stay on the left side of the road! That a lone is a HUGE accomplishment. You wouldn't think it would be hard to do, but habits take over and there you are driving down the road head on in the path of another car. Don't worry we haven't had that many close calls, we usually figure it out when the kids yell at us!
We did discover that you can watch TV in the van while you are driving it. One day the fam was doing a bunch of running around the kids were bored off their gourd and I turned on the TV. Star Wars is HUGE over here, and so is the Clone Wars. On the Japanese station was the Clone Wars cartoon. The kids loved watching TV while we were driving down the road. We haven't done it since, because we the drivers go get distracted, but it does help waiting for someone in the parking lot for what seems like hours on end. Caleb wants to join the swim team, his first practice is next week. He actually has tryouts on Monday and then a week of practice to see if he likes it. I hope he does, but I also know it will bring long days for him and much more driving for me. I know it will be good for him and he's very excited about it. He is also in chorus in school. He came home the first day of school to inform us that he is the only boy in the chorus program. I asked him if he wanted to continue, he said and I quote "Oh Yeah! Mom it's gonna be great!" (He takes after his father!)

Katie is soooo hungry for a fabulous girls program. I really wish I could find one. We went "interview" a GS troop and I was less than impressed. I've been praying for a solution, but I am still having reservations that I was having for the past couple of years. Pray that God brings to us a wonderful program that will provide the leadership and fun that Katie is looking for in a girls program. She is loving all the kids in the neighborhood and walks to school everyday w/ a herd of kids. Seth has signed up for band in school. He so badly wanted to continue with his guitar but the school doesn't offer strings, so he chose brass. When he was asked by the band instructor what instrument he wanted he chose the French Horn, no particular reason mind you. "Just wanted to try it!" He's a crazy nut! I remember being told that the FH was the hardest instrument to learn, good luck Seth! Both boys are already active in Boy Scouting. We found a fantastic troop, it's a bit of a drive but it's by far the best troop on the island, the leadership is top notch.

As for me...I signed up to take a framing class. It starts tomorrow. I should learn how to make my own photo mats and frames. Once I take this class I can be "set free" in the framing studio to do my own work. The class is 4 weeks long (once a week), that is a start right. I also know I'll be getting really involved in our new church. This weekend we joined Koza Baptist. It's really close to the house, the preacher is a retired Marine (Mark loves that!) and it's a very very active church. Tomorrow night Katie and I are going to Koza to learn about their Christmas production, we would like to audition and see where they need help. I've always wanted to get the kids involved in productions/plays at church... finally we can do it! Seth also wasn't to audition, so we might be really busy really soon!

I'll take some pictures of our home soon. We still do not have our household shipment, so our house is pretty bare and boring. So hold tight, trying to make a home outta nothing ain't easy. Right now it's still just a house. All in all we are adjusting, and loving our time here. Can't believe we've been here a month already. Yep, yesterday was a month, our one month anniversary. Looking forward to the next 35 month on the island.