Easter Again!

The weekend after we arrived in Japan in 2007 was Easter. We dyed eggs in our TLF hotel room and hid the eggs around the room for Jake to “find.” I say find loosely because at 20 months, he pretty much had to be led to each one.

How time has flown.

Three years and two more kids have whistled through our lives and we’re now, on Easter 2010, looking ahead at our last full week on Okinawa.

But we get to enjoy Easter first.


And this morning, the kiddos got dressed up in their Easter outfits (thanks, Grandee!).  Unfortunately, Brent worked a 12-hour shift last night AND will work a 12-hour shift tonight.  So, the extent of Easter for him was to take a couple pictures of the kids, when his wife asked, before he fell into bed.

Next time, I’ll go down and help with SMILING.  🙂

Happy Easter, all!

Videos of Promotion Ceremony

Going crazy with the videos because in my CLEANING I found Hannah’s “lost” camera which takes little mpegs!

So this is from yesterday’s ceremony — this is the sweet part when Emi-sensei gets all teary. Such a beautiful woman!

And this was their closing prayer… you’ve heard Jake do it before HERE. But this is the whole class. Not sure what the deal is with Jake’s 360 at the end…

Her Belly Laugh

I just love the age when they discover laughter. She’s laughing at my peek-a-boo…

C-san Promotion Ceremony

Tears, tears and more tears.

Today was Jake’s last day at Koza Seibo Yochien.  I am genuinely, utterly sad.  It’s the first time I’ve felt this way as our PCS date approaches.  But it was a lovely end-of-year ceremony. (Japanese schools have their main break in March & April.  The new school year will start in about 4 weeks.)

Having put away their shoes, they started with the usual opening ceremonies in their classroom.

They filed very reverently into the chapel area…

And then Ancho-Sensei started things off…

Love this shot of my friend Jenny’s son.  Or of his hair…

Then they called Jake and a few others up to the front.  I hadn’t expected he would be specifically recognized for no longer attending the school due to our upcoming PCS.  It was very sweet.

But I think that attention got him all embarrassed, so when it was time to sing we got the Stoic Jake.

Then we all went back to the kid’s individual classrooms and Emi-Sensei (Jake’s teacher) spent some time just chatting and, I think, quizzing them a bit.  Then came the time for goodbyes.  But before she began, she called up Jake and another little girl who will not be returning next year.  And this is where the tears began in earnest.  Mine and hers.  She gave him the “mic” and asked where he was moving to.  “America.”

And you can see the tears already in her eyes.

She ended up grabbing a hankie and continuing.  She asked Jake and the other little girl to stay up front so that as she congratulated each child on their year, they could shake hands and say goodbye to each other.  HOW SWEET.

Then it was Jake’s turn to get his “medal” and some love from Emi-sensei.

I couldn’t even speak.  Tears streaming down my face.  Managed to get out a croaking “Arigato-gozaimasu” — but Thank You hardly covers it.  I’ll be getting a letter translated for her soon.  Attempt to tell her how much I appreciate the love and attention she showered on Jake this year.

How fantastic to have a teacher who cries instead of dances when your child leaves!

Emi-Sensei, we will miss you and Koza Seibo SOOOO MUCH!

A parting shot of Jake and his buddy, K… (one of those moments I KNOW my son is part Japanese — look at that sun squint!)

Arguably My Greatest Honor

This is Jake’s last week of school, so returning home each day in his backpack is a variety of the school stuffs he used during the year.

But yesterday he came home with this card for me.  He even hid it behind his back and made me close my eyes.

It says:

Ichi Nenkan (For one year of…)

Oishii Obento (Delicious packed lunches)

Arigatou (Thank You)

Ja-ku (Jake)

I mostly truly enjoyed packing his twice weekly bento boxes.  Cramming and cutting and decoratively fitting his lunch into those little containers.  But it is NICE to be thanked!

Gala Salt Factory

Trying to merge Brent’s Final project with weekend activities has gotten us creative.  Here’s the logic behind this one:

One way to “marry” two cultures is to choose to experience things that are specific to the local culture.  So salt making, which has a long history on Okinawa seemed to fit the bill.  We headed up to Gala, thanks to Mary’s post, and had a great time.

It starts with a stone bowl filled with a 7x concentration of sea water.

Add in three hands with wooden stirring sticks…

A goof ball…

A taster…

And 15 minutes of stirring brings you…  boredom from the previously hyped boys.

Ten more minutes finds me doing it myself…

But soon after things started to change from this:

To this…

To this…

And finally we are instructed to begin scrapping off the fire…

And the final product!

Well, almost.  The guy helping us smashed it a bit more and then put it into the pot Jake had picked out and wrapped it up for us.

To be honest, I hadn’t thought the kids would enjoy it — but they really did.  (And ran around pretending to be Optimus Prime between stirs and tastes.)  It was pretty cool, actually.

Anpanman on the Sea Wall

Brent’s final project for his current photography class is to assemble a group of photographs as a narrative on the “Marriage of Japan and the US.”  To that end we’ve been wracking our brains for things on island that can be used as illustrations.  He’s collected shots of the requisite Ja-Nglish signs:

And proof of Americans legacy in food:

And this weekend he’s taking pictures of Hannah’s best friends here — who are all Hapa (the Hawaiian term for “half”).

But one of our ideas had to do with cartoon characters.  I think it’s fair to say that all kids in all lands love cartoons.  But our kids are lucky enough not just to have Dora and Diego and Nemo, but also the Japanese Anpanman.  So we headed down to the Sea Wall where artists enjoy painting to find some of these both American and Japanese characters.Even Japan hasn’t escaped the Sponge.

I had dressed Kira in her Anpanman shirt and so we tried to get some shots of her with the little man.

However, it was WITHOUT A DOUBT the coldest day I have EVER experienced on Okinawa.  So we managed to stay out there for about 10 minutes before heading back to the warm safety of the car.

Brent braved the elements for a few more minutes to get some flag shots.  Though we’re hoping for a nice sunny day to get some more…

More of the project to come…

Couscous and Peas

She won’t eat.

Well, I mean, she likes Mama’s milk an awful lot, but other than that, she won’t eat.

At month 6, we first started her on solids and she refused every spoonful that came her way.  I figured, no biggie — her major nutrition comes from breastmilk anyway.  So I’d try again every week or so.  With no success.

At month 7, I got creative.  Started mixing the pureed stuff with her rice or oatmeal cereal, forming it into turd shapes and baking.  They came out kind of gummy, but she ate a few.  I did find that she would chow down on the Japanese baby rice crackers and O’s.  So she started eating a lot of those because she could pick them up herself.

At month 8, I just decided to ditch the baby food entirely since she still wasn’t really eating more than a bite before pursing her lips (just like her great grandfather) and turning her head away.  But she CLEARLY wants to eat.  She is grabby girl and always trying to get our food.  One night I thought, “Well, heck.”  I scooped up some couscous on my fork and extended it to her.  She opened her mouth like a little bird and continued to for the next 10 bites (exactly what her brothers did from the moment 6 months hit).  So.  Couscous.  You like couscous.

So now, I’m just cooking veggies for her — carrots, beniimo, sweet potatoes — and cutting them into bite-sized pieces and she’s eating a few of those.  And pasta.  Luckily, I had some organic pasta from eons ago still in the pantry.  She loves her rotini.  And the other day, I tried peas and she was as happy as a clam.  (I usually buy only 3 veggies frozen cuz they carry organic corn, broccoli and green beans at the commissary, but then I remembered that peas are on the top of the “ok to be non-organic” list.  So she gets those now, too.

Bottom line, she wants to DO IT MYSELF.  Almost nothing I offer her is ever accepted unless it’s on the table in front of her.

If this is foreshadowing of things to come, I’m quaking in my boots.

Quinn’s Turn to Skuut

So, Quinn’s right on schedule. Jake was finally tall enough and coordinated enough to ride his Skuut in the Spring two years ago. Quinn is that same age now and sure enough — is Skuutin’!

I love the “Oh YEAH?” at the beginning of his ride!

Kira 7 Month Videos

She does this hand waggle thing regularly.  In fact she does a lot of waggly things with her hands.  Very hula meets orchestral conducting.

And then a little proof of the crawling and standing…