Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Our Little Superstars!

Fall has finally arrived here at Yokota.  The weather has cooled off and we wake to a beautiful blue sky every morning.  I absolutely love this time of year!

We were much more busy over the weekend than we had anticipated.  Ryan had to fly all day on Saturday, I took the kids to a birthday party that morning, and then we met up with some friends for a nice dinner at the Officers' Club later that night.  On Sunday, we decided to make a quick trip to the mall for some lunch, shopping at the Gap, and to let Matthew play in the kids play area.  I love that Japanese malls always have a play area for the kids.  You usually have to pay about 500 Yen (about $8), but it's a brilliant concept!  Matthew had a blast, so I took a quick picture while he was sitting still on the "merry-go-round".  Everything is padded, the area is contained so kids can't escape, parents are admitted for free, no shoes allowed so the area stays clean, and when you have a red headed child it makes him easy to spot in the sea of Japanese children!  I wish they had things like this in the malls in the US....

Can you spot Matthew riding the merry-go-round?  He's in a blue shirt.  :)

Monday proved to be very eventful for us too.  Ryan flew on Monday night, so he wasn't able to join us, but I took the kids downtown Tokyo for the day.  The purpose for the trip was to get them registered with a Japanese modeling agency.  We took the shuttle that leaves from the base at 9:30am and the trip took us about an hour and a half to get there.  The shuttle stops at the New Sanno hotel (a military run hotel), so we got off there and went inside to "freshen" up.  The office for Sugar and Spice modeling agency was only about 2-3 blocks away from the New Sanno, so it was an easy walk.  We met with the agency at 12pm, where they took measurements and a few photos of the kids.  This basically allows them to add Matthew and Catherine to their database.  When companies contact them with jobs, they are able to send out the pictures/measurements for them to select the child/children they want featured in their ad campaign.  I'm not sure how often Matthew and Catherine will be called for jobs -- especially since it seems like every child here at Yokota is registered with them -- but even if they only make a few hundred dollars while we're stationed here, it will be a little something to add to their college funds.  You'd think they would be popular with their red hair and blue eyes, but I can't tell you how many redheaded kids we have on base here.  It's crazy!  But, of course, I'm hopeful that my little redheads will be superstars!  After we met with the agency, we walked back to the New Sanno, had a nice lunch in their cafe, and took the 1:30pm shuttle back to Yokota Air Base.  Overall, it was a fun trip and Matthew was such a trooper on the bus ride! 

Watching a movie on my iPad.

My little world traveler  :)

I took this as we were walking to the agency.  It had started to drizzle a little, so it was a hazy day.  Not a very good photo, but it will give you an idea of what the area looked like.  We are headed downtown again this coming weekend for an overnight stay at the New Sanno and some exploring.  I'll take better pictures to post of that adventure.  :)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

FALLing in love with Japan

Fall is definitely my favorite time of year, and it is a beautiful time of year in Japan too.  We celebrated our 1 year "Japanniversary" on August 28, 2011, and I honestly can't believe how fast it's gone by for us.  I have truly fallen in love with the country of Japan and the Japanese nationals.  If you had asked me a year ago how I felt about moving to Japan, I would have said, "It's part of God's plan, so I'm embracing the opportunity."  Obviously, I was very excited, but I was also VERY nervous about what life would be like living overseas and so far away from family.  My trust in what God had planned for us was the only way I found peace. 

The move here has naturally presented the obvious challenges along the way: the Japanese language is very difficult to learn, navigating through the areas off base can be hard when street signs are all written in kanji, driving on the opposite side of the road does not feel natural (although, I can say that after a year, it's much easier!), and we don't have a Target to run to when you need something!  The biggest challenge has definitely been that Ryan's job Navigating on the C-130 means he's frequently traveling the world and is away from the family more than he's home.  Thankfully, the community here at Yokota is amazing.  The ladies I have become friends with have become my sisters.  We stick together and try to help each other out wherever we are needed, and I feel so blessed to have met these girls.  I've also gotten involved with our MOPS group here as the new Co-Coordinator, I attend a weekly Bible Study that is run by the chapel, the kids and I attend playgroup activities several days a week, I play in a monthly Bunco group, I've joined the Yokota Officer Spouses Club, and I try to attend all of the squadron sponsored events.  (See, Mom, I have lots to keep me busy! :)  We have our ups and downs, but this has definitely become home.  The saying goes, "Home is Where the Heart Is," and my heart is definitely here in Japan!

I'm not sure where the month of September has gone, but I do know that we've had lots of fun.  Below are a few pictures taken along the way.  I promise there will be more to come.  There is never a dull moment in our house!  :)

"Made in Japan"

Catherine is 3 months old!  She's also wearing a dress I wore as a baby.

Matthew's new "big boy" bed!

Matthew's room

Matthew and Daddy reading books before bedtime. 

I hung some small planters from the balcony.  It's hard to see, but I love how they turned out.  :)

Matthew and his best friend, Noah.  They are such sweet boys!

A beautiful rainbow!

Matthew and his friends watching the crazy Typhoon weather from the balcony.  We also had our fire alarm go off, so you can see they were also watching the fire truck below.  Such cute kids!  Matthew is blessed to have such wonderful friends here in Japan.

Chuck the Truck Adventures in the Pacific

At the end of July, Chuck the Truck decided to pass his traveling torch to his best friend, Eddie Spaghetti (AKA: Eddie Getti).  Fortunately for Eddie Getti, he got to travel with Ryan to Kadena Air Base, in Okinawa, Japan.  Based on the photos, it looks like they had fun at the beach!

Flying over the Pacific

Eddie Getti spots Kadena Air Base

On final approach into Okinawa, Japan

Can you spot all the airplanes - wow!

Daddy's airplane - a C-130!

Eddie enjoys the sunset!

Eddie dreams of going swimming in Okinawa!

Eddie found a beautiful flower  :)

August proved to be quite a whirlwind for Ryan and all of his travels.  Once again, Chuck the Truck was back at his side exploring the Pacific.  Destination....Sri Lanka!

Chuck checks out a cessna with Ryan and some guys on his crew.

Chuck enjoys playing on the wing of a cool airplane!

Chuck stumbles onto the set of Monty Python  :)

Chuck goes swimming at the pool...tough life!

Chuck enjoys relaxing by the fountain at the hotel in Sri Lanka.

Oooh...a BIG ramp! (Ryan said he nearly lost him in the bushes at the end of the ramp. He was afraid to dig him out because of the cobras!)

Chuck scopes out the beach in Sri Lanka

Good thing Chuck has 4-wheel drive. The sand is very soft!

Thankfully, Chuck, Eddie Spaghetti, and Ryan all have plans to be home for most of September.  But, it's only a matter of time before more adventures will begin, so stay tuned!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Chuck the Truck travels to Brunei

Chuck the Truck traveled from Australia to Brunei and then back to Japan.  Here are the pictures he took along the way.  What a fun adventure!!

A 5 star hotel in Brunei after a long flight from Australia. Chuck the Truck matches the couch!

Getting all checked into the hotel

Time for a shower after a long flight

This is the life...

Headed back home to Japan

What a view!

Back at the squadron resting with the 36th Eagle Airlifters mascot.  What an amazing trip!

Chuck the Truck Travels the World

Now that Matthew is 2 1/2 years old, he has started to understand when Daddy has to leave for a few weeks to go "fly an airplane" (aka: TDY).  This means that Ryan is away for a few days or a few weeks at a time, and Matthew sure does miss him!

About a month after Catherine was born, Ryan was scheduled to go on another TDY.  Since we had spent so much quality time as a family, we knew it was going to be harder on Matthew to see Daddy leave again.  So, we came up with the idea for Ryan to take one of Matthew's trucks with him and he could photo-journal his travels with "Chuck the Truck".  Ryan really got creative and has had lots of fun taking pictures of Chuck traveling the world, so I thought it would be neat to share them within the blogging world too.  Since we're stationed in Japan, Ryan has gotten to travel to some really neat countries, so this allows us to also keep track of where he's been.  

I think it's just as exciting for me to receive the pictures as it is for Matthew.  We both have so much fun opening the email and looking at all the fun places that Chuck and Daddy are visiting.  Hope you enjoy the photos too!

Here are pictures from Chuck the Truck's trip to Okinawa, Japan and Australia.  See if you can find Chuck in each photo!

Chuck the Truck landed safely in Okinawa, Japan

Having pizza with Daddy at Kadena AFB, Japan

Taking a nap...zzzzzzzzz

Having a fun fruity drink at Sams-by-the-Sea in Okinawa

The staff at Sam's-by-the-Sea thinks Chuck the Truck is A-Okay!

Where are we going next, Chuck?

Chuck making friends!

Chuck signed the guest book at Sams-by-the-Sea

Ready for the flight

A beautiful sunrise in Okinawa

Big Wheels vs. Little Wheels

Big Truck vs. Little Truck

Checking out the view

Charting the flight to Australia

Admiring the big clouds along the way

Sunset in Darwin, Australia

Chuck the Truck enjoys a hearty meal after a long flight. He ate Crocodile sausage and Kangaroo steak!

Flying to Sydney, Australia

Sydney at night...

Sydney at sunrise

Chuck the Truck helps the Australian police.  Can you spot Chuck?