Thursday, November 3, 2011

Our own Peter Pan and Tinker Bell

There are days here in Japan that I feel like I'm living in "Never Never Land" like Peter Pan.  We have a great time "playing" each week with our friends and hanging out at the park, eating lunch together, hosting playgroups, going bowling, taking trips off base, watching get the a nutshell, we just plain have fun!  Sometimes, I completely forget that we're in Japan.  So, this year I thought it would be neat for Matthew and Catherine to dress up as Peter Pan and Tinker Bell for Halloween.  It was just a bonus that Peter Pan happens to be a red head too!
The weather forecast on Halloween was to be rainy, but thankfully we woke up to a nice sunny afternoon.  It was windy and chilly, but no rain!  We had planned to meet up with several other families that have children around the same age as Matthew and go trick-or-treating together.  The kids all looked so adorable in their costumes.  And, it was even more precious to see the kids get excited about each other's costumes!  We met at 6pm, once it had gotten dark, and set off in one of the neighborhoods on base.  Here are pictures of the kids waiting in the parking lot to go trick-or-treating.

One of the neat things about Halloween here at Yokota is that you're allowed to sponsor the Japanese on base to trick-or-treat.  The Japanese don't really celebrate Halloween like we do in the USA, but they get so excited to come on base to trick-or-treat with us.  Lots of the spouses, who don't have children, teach English off base to Japanese children and adults.  Typically, those are the kids who are sponsored on base.  I had anticipated that it would be busy with all the kids out during the allotted 6-8pm time slot, but I clearly didn't prepare myself enough.  It was madness!  There were thousands of kids and adults!  A Facebook status from a friend read that she spent at least $150-$200 a year buying candy for the kids because it always went fast.  Several of our friends who were experiencing Halloween here for the first time spent around $30, and they all ran out within the first 30 minutes.  Crazy! 

Overall, it was so fun to watch Matthew walk up to each door and say, "trick-or-treat" in his sweet little voice.  And, then he would always politely say, "thank you" after a piece of candy dropped into his bag.  By about 7:30pm, the excitement caught up with Matthew and he asked if we could go home.  This is definitely turing out to be a big year of memories with Matthew now that he's almost 3 years old!

Happy Halloween 2011!!

Our Little Preschooler

Matthew has been attending a preschool program on base on Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 9am - 1pm.  He absolutely loves his teacher, who he calls, Mrs. Donna.  She's authorized through the military to run the preschool out of her home.  There are usually only four of them that are there regularly on Tuesday and Thursday, so it's nice that it's a small group.  They go to the park, the indoor swimming pool, do crafts, work on their alphabet, numbers, days of the week and seasons.  It's been a great new thing for Matthew to try and he really looks forward to "school" each week.
A few weeks ago, they took a field trip to the Fire Station during Fire Safety week.  Donna sent us a few pictures that she took of the kids.  Matthew talked about sitting in the fire truck all day long and they even got a neat fire hat to bring home.  He's really into trucks, cars and trains these days, so this field trip was perfect!

Matthew with his friends, Serenity, Chloe, and Kirsten

Driving the Fire Truck!

The kids with Mrs. Donna, the Fireman and the Fire Safety Dog

The week before Halloween, Donna had a little party for the kids and invited all the other Mom's to come join in the fun.  We had food and did a craft with the kids, but Matthew's favorite part was decorating his own pumpkin shaped sugar cookie and then getting to eat it.  I didn't think he would actually eat the entire thing, but he sure did, and he loved it!  I'm so glad I had my camera with me, because he had sprinkles ALL over his face by the time he was done!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fun at the Park

Ryan took Matthew to the park a few weekends ago and he took some really adorable photos of Matthew.  They were taken from his iPhone, so they're not the best quality, but I had to share my these pictures of my sweet boy!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

USO Sesame Street Show

The USO brought Sesame Street to Yokota Air Base on Monday, and Matthew LOVED seeing Elmo!  I wasn't sure how he was going to react to seeing the characters in person, but he really got super excited.  A few of Matthew's friends were there too, and they spent the majority of the time dancing and jumping around during the performance.  It was wonderful to see Matthew get so excited!

Waiting for the show to start with his best friend, Noah!

Getting excited!

Sitting with friends waiting for Elmo

It's ELMO!!

After the show

In front of the USO Banner

I'm a happy boy!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pumpkin Patch

We had a Pumpkin Patch play date with some friends last week.  It was the most beautiful afternoon, so we set up the pumpkins outside.  I let Matthew hold Catherine for the photos and he did so well.  He stayed very still and held onto her the entire time.  He's such a sweet big brother!


I love this picture.  So sweet!

Thank you for my pretty pumpkin smocked dress, Nana!

Bright eyed!

I just think this picture of Catherine is so precious even though she's about to start crying.  She's such a sweet little girl and I love her to pieces!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Japanese Dinner

Every time we go off base, Matthew asks us if we're going to have a "Japanese Dinner."  I think it's so sweet that he constantly talks about visiting our "Japanese friends" off base.  A few weeks ago, we were having trouble with our refrigerator and needed to call maintenance to come take a look.  When the guys showed up, Ryan told Matthew that our Japanese friends were here to fix our fridge.  Later that night during story time, Matthew pulled out his "Where's Waldo?" book and realized that some pages were missing (he'd torn them out in true 2 year-old fashion).  So, he looked at Ryan and said, "Daddy, you call our Japanese friends to come fix my Waldo book?"  So cute!  I love that he gets excited to be surrounded by the Japanese.  And, more importantly, that he calls them his friends. 

The weekend of October 1, we decided to extend our time off base from just having a Japanese dinner to also having a Japanese sleep-over at the New Sanno Hotel in downtown Tokyo.  It's a military run hotel, so you are surrounded by English speaking staff, which makes it almost too easy to have a night away.  They even have babysitters on staff to stay with your children so you can have a worry-free date night downtown.  Here's the link to the hotel if you want to see what it looks like: .  Our 24-hour trip was much more eventful that we anticipated, and we learned several things about sightseeing with two kids downtown.  Thankfully, we had some good laughs along the way, and overall it was a really nice family getaway. 

Here's our Top 10 list of lessons learned:
1. Even if you're packed and ready to go the night before, it will still take you at least 2 1/2 hours to get out the door the next morning....and you'll still need everything but the kitchen sink!
2. Don't assume that every Japanese person knows English.
3. Do assume that they will take pictures of your red headed children.  And they won't necessarily be discreet about it either.
4. Make a note to check the events calendar for the sight you plan to see to make sure it's not "Free Admission Day" like we found during our outing to the Ueno Zoo.  Yep, we were there with every other person in Tokyo who wanted a free day at the zoo.  Oops!
5. Don't be surprised to see ladies wearing stilettos at the zoo while pushing strollers full of kids. And I probably looked ridiculous in my tennis shoes!
6. Don't forget to pack the miracle blanket that properly swaddles your sweet baby girl so she sleeps like an angel.  If you do forget it, be prepared for her to wake up every few hours, which doesn't make for a good night's sleep in a hotel room.
7. Don't take a stroller on the subway.  It's a real pain walking up and down the stairs.
8. Hire the babysitter to arrive at least 30 minutes before your dinner reservation because your children will probably have a full on meltdown just seconds before she arrives and you will need time to get them settled and still have time to brush your teeth.  Oh, and make sure your husband isn't still in his towel when the babysitter shows up. 
9. Don't ever assume that your 1995 Honda Odyssey van won't break down in the middle of a tunnel in downtown Tokyo, during high traffic, where there isn't a shoulder to pull off onto.  Thankfully, we were able to putter our way to the hotel, but breaking down in a major city where you don't speak the language well, isn't a good idea.  We put way too much faith in our van that is 16 years old and has probably had at least 5 owners. 
10. Do allow your 2 year old to pray in the middle of the tunnel in Tokyo that the van will start and that we can make it through safely.  It works.  We made it, by the grace of God.

So, it wasn't the most relaxing vacation, but it was time for us to spend as a family, and that's what matters most.  Here are some of our favorite pictures that we took along the way

Matthew and Ryan riding the subway

I just thought this was funny - it was animated chopsticks pulling noddles in and out of the bowl.

At the zoo -- can you spot the line behind Ryan to see the Giant Panda.  Crazy?!

Matthew and Ryan watching the elephants

A Japanese Tea Ceremony House

Matthew loved the lions!

Going to eat ice cream with the rest of the zoo crowd

Heels at the zoo...?  Not unusual in Japan.

Matthew loves ice cream :)

There was a security guard holding this sign at the end of the Giant Panda line.  They are serious about this Panda viewing.

Notice the TWO children passed out asleep in the SAME stroller. That can't be comfortable!

Dinner at Wellington's in the New Sanno Hotel

Outside the New Sanno Hotel after our delicious dinner!  I had one very handsome date! :)