Saturday, July 31, 2010

Lemonade (Renee's)

1/3 C Lemon Juice (2 - 3 lemons)
1/3 C  Agave Nectar (Xagave)
1 lt Perrier Water (sparkling water)

Mix. Serve over ice. Yummy! My new deployment drink of choice. For more yummy eats click here or link list below blog header. Made with Madhava Agave Nectar 80 cal per 8 oz.

Psst....I now make this with tap water and the kids love it just the same. 60 cal per 8 oz if made with tap water. 

Choosing Joy!
©2010 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Hachinohe Sansha Taisai Festival

I'll share more thoughts and post a zillion photos tomorrow....but for now...let me say attending this festival with Akikosan was a blast. 


Crowds like this in America would alarm me....

But the girls were fairly easy to keep track of...the crowds honestly parted and the comments were often and loud. I could get rich if I sold photos of these two. 

Jared was easy to spot and by this point seems to be tired of keeping an eye out for his sisters. Poor guy. He does look rather fearsome doesn't he? 

I felt totally safe, but when I mentioned going to Tokyo with the kids...Akikosan said she thinks it would be a better idea to wait until Mikesan is home. She said maybe Okinawa would be a better idea than Tokyo?????

Family Portrait 

May I say a Victorian corset has nothing over a Japanese Obi

Poor Arielle couldn't eat....

Stacia had no trouble - sweet pineapple

Akiko steered us from the "ice cream" stands to a little man with a cart for "old style Japanese Icesu"....yummm....like a slushy on a cone. 


A very fun evening.....many more sights to share...tomorrow....
Choosing Joy!
©2010 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Friday, July 30, 2010

Very Cool Video



We topped off our VBS week, by heading to a local church where a Youth Rally was being held. The video above is the chapel's Human Video team (summer time - small)....at a Japanese Youth Rally. Jared is the central devil tonight.....Nolan is front on the right and Arielle is front on the left. A funny aside is that Jared instructed all to remove glasses and jewelry etc before they went on. It wasn't until the middle of the thing that I began to wonder how Arielle would see to jump off the platform....she said she counted everyone else's steps...and remembered how high to jump etc from practice. LOL


Choosing Joy!
©2010 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

"Chocolate MnMs"

"Can I have a chocolate MnM? "


Distracted, I agree. 


"Oh, people...lovelys....Mom said I can share chocolate MnMs?" 


What in the world is she talking about? Has she gotten in the Daddy jar - our deployment countdown? 


No.....Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds.... ::snort:: 


Choosing Joy!
©2010 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I think Zander did o.k. at VBS today. He went to bed early on Tuesday night to be sure.

We enjoyed lunch with Renee and Ricky.

We checked at the BX for magnetic tape strip (to hang PWOC fliers in the chapel). They didn't have any.

We stopped at Y100 and bought two rolls.

Jared took a nap this afternoon.

Arielle and Nolan went to the beach with friends.

Zander, Stacia and I prepared and  delivered a meal to a brand new baby gal and  her family. Enjoyed the visit immensely.

Choosing Joy!
©2010 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Summer Fun

This week is full of VBS in the mornings.

We've also been working on school (reading, math, language arts).

I've been working on some local PWOC publicity...and trying to find time to work on regional PWOC projects as well.

We've found time for water fun....
The key seems to be to get YOURSELF wet. ::snort::

 Nothing like kicking back with a brother

We're still enjoying a bit of fresh produce from our garden. The strawberries are nearly played out. I pulled the romaine and broccoli. We now have some healthy watermelon plants but I'm not sure they'll produce an actual melon. We still have a red and green leaf lettuce that are supplementing our lettuce....those fresh salads lost a bit of their appeal when a slug crawled to the side of my plate one evening. ::gag:: 

I planted a pepper plant 3 - 4 weeks ago....and look at this. I think we'll roast some veggies for dinner. 


Renee B, shared a yummy lemonade recipe. I really should find time to get it into my recipe section....1/3 C fresh squeezed lemon juice, 2/3 C Agave Nectar (or Xagave) and 1 ltr Perrier Water (sparkling water of any type or tap water should work). I figure about 120 calories per 8 oz.

Choosing Joy!
©2010 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

God Speaks Through Bread

I've been praying for a rainy day so I could get some bread baked.

I've prayed all week, "God, give us a small break, so I can bake bread before we run out." The break hasn't come.

This morning I took out our last mini-loaf. It was a hot and humid morning. It was hot after chapel at 0900. It was HOT after Sunday brunch. It was HOT all the way home...until we crossed the Log Cabin Pachinko/Circle K intersection about a mile from our home. In the middle of the intersection there were PUDDLES and LOTS of rain....and it poured out by us. POURED....very cool.

 I did NOT feel like baking bread when God supplied a break in the weather. I had just enough time to take a much needed nap before heading back to chapel to help transform our sanctuary into a Pirate's ship in the ocean. 

 I'd been PRAYING for this all week...."Just a quick break, God, so I can bake before I run out of bread." I couldn't forget, I'd ASKED GOD FOR A BREAK in the weather. Not to take a nap or get a breather from the heat, but to BAKE BREAD.


I baked...and I pondered how often I pray for God's intervention, and am napping when He provides the answer.....

Wake me up, God....Give me a constant dose of Holy Spirit inspired No Doze.

Choosing Joy!
©2010 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Past Few Days

Friday a.m. - more VBS decorating. Friday afternoon is a blur. Friday night, VBS run through.

Saturday - the Kids were part of the bases Operation CODE (Children On Deployment Exercise). I'll load photos and say more about that soon.

After CODE, Jared, Arielle and Nolan had Human Video practice. The team is preparing for a youth rally at a local church.

Today we went to the 0800 service. We enjoyed the scrumptious breakfast buffet at the club....because we wanted to. Jared stayed on base to attend 1100 service too and run errands. We headed home and eventually met up with Akikosan. Akiko was going to make sure that I bought the right things for Stacia's yukata. She told me they are having trouble finding the right things for our tall boys...so the boys will have to go Western.  Akikosan surprised us with a gorgeous, brand new, yukata for Arielle. She told me that it was a "special price" and told me again, "no more special prices". ::snort:: I can't believe it and am trying to figure out what such a gift means and how we should respond.

Saturday we'll meet, drive to Hachinohe together and then enjoy the festival.....and she has offered to have us pick a spot we'd like to visit and she'll go with us on an upcoming Saturday so that I "don't need a GPS". ::snort::

After meeting with Akiko, we drove to the chapel to help finish up VBS prep.  A family walk and now our weekly Ice Cream treat....another week ending/beginning.

Zander had a ton of fun pretending he was driving a team of horses....
I warned him...run into us three times and you'll lose the buggy. He hit me twice....and others too....he lost his horse and buggy. LOL
Choosing Joy!
©2010 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Pajamas????? Humph!

We spent this a.m. decorating for next week's VBS. Quite fun. I met a couple of new women and enjoyed accomplishing something definite. LOL

Several of us ate lunch together. I've discovered most on base head to the food court, BX, commissary on hot days - AC.

We headed to the ocean for an hour of swimming. I bought a pump to blow up the air mattresses, but it doesn't work.

Ran into the W family...which was fun.

Back home in time for quick showers and Japanese lessons.

Akiko informs me that our yukatas are "pajamas, suitable for hotel wear".  Evidently, you have to do everything just right for festival.....sleeves, hem, hair, shoes....Sunday we'll go shopping for a real yukata for Stacia. Arielle and I will rent one.  We're looking forward to going to festival with Akiko. I invited her to church but she likes to sleep.....I may have to find an evening service. ::snort::

Choosing Joy!
©2010 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Playing - Self Care at its Finest

When we lived in San Antonio I had a dear friend...Brenda. We would go to the parks, the lakes, Sea World...and we'd play with our kids. We'd visit...but we played a lot while we visited. We noted we were some of the few in our group that played with their kids..... In San Angelo, at Park Days, I'd be one of a handful of Mommies playing with her children instead of visiting under the pavilion.

Guadalupe River State Park, near San Antonio - site of many happy afternoons

Yesterday, I realized something. The kids were playing at the chapel outing. The moms had a great time visiting....as we should. Nothing wrong with that. I've ENJOYED and CRAVED the female friendships with which God has blessed me.  I realize, however, that I've transitioned from being the "playing mommy" to the "visiting mommy". This leaves a lot of the watching of younger children to Arielle - and she needs the freedom to enjoy her friends too. I'm also robbed of the "funnest Mom in the world title." My youngest two need to know I play. I've been fairly busy since they were born. ::snort::

Yesterday afternoon I donned my swimsuit when we headed for the beach. Instead of shorts and t-shirt. It was COLD and I didn't go in much.  Today, we went again. I swam the whole time with the little ones. I took Stacia and Zander way out to the rope with the big kids. All had a great time. At bedtime I heard things like, "Mom, thank you for swimming with us today," and "Mom, we had fun jumping over waves, didn't we?," and "Mom, you are the funnest"!  Not one of them commented on the fact that I look bad in my swimsuit (and I was glad to have lost that 10 lbs in the last few weeks).  ::snort:: Yes, I love visiting with my friends and I'm sure there are balances to be had...but I know I got it right the last couple of days. I wasn't sure the little ones would WANT to play with MOM - but they loved it. I did too.  Mike committed to me years ago to be "a fully engaged father"  - even though he's "getting up there in age". This week I realized that I NEED to play as much as possible with the children, while they still want to play with me.

Not the actual waves we jumped over...

THIS is self-care at it's finest!

Choosing Joy!
©2010 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Marshmallow Guns???

I've still not found a Feingold friendly marshmallow....certainly not in Japan. Blue dye and yuck in them...but they taste so good.

The white coals SCREAMED for roasting marshmallows and making s'mores. A treat we've not had  at home in recent years.....and one that used to be a part of every camping trip and many BBQ's.  Twyla and Jim made some yummy ones for all the guests at the lake last week..... Before I knew it - we were grilling......No, I don't keep marshmallows in the house....but the kids got marshmallow guns for Christmas.... ::snort::  ::gasp:: They willingly sacrificed the ammo.


Yes, bamboo yakitori skewers for sticks....

I also don't keep Hershey's in the house and didn't want to WASTE the organic graham crackers I order from vitacost on such small marshmallows and chocolates..... thus was born the world's smallest s'more....

It's hard to tell, but it's a mini-mallow, with a chocolate chunk between two Annie bunny grahams. Tasted wonderful.

Choosing Joy!
©2010 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Outdoors Day

Today was to be our long awaited, and oft cancelled trip to Towada Horse Park. I'd not been too worried when plans fell through twice before for us to go. I knew we'd go with the chapel on 20 July - Chapel Summer Activities....our picnic was packed, but unfortunately....it was not to be. They are typically closed on Mondays....or Tuesdays if Monday is National Holiday. As you may remember, yesterday was OCEAN DAY.  We knew this may happen.

The group called and said we were going to Swan Park instead. We love both Swan and Liberty park; both are less than 10 min from our house. Off we went. It was a great group today. Lots of fun for all in our family.

We headed to Shimoda mall when we left the park. I bought some produce and some fresh salmon to grill for dinner.

When we got home, we realized it was too hot for any of us to want to do school AND there was still much of the day left.

We went to Veedol Swim Beach. SCORE. The bathrooms were open (we'd thought they'd only be open on the weekends until August), the beach was pretty empty... it was cooler than our house, AND Anna and kids happened to be there. They enjoyed  a rousing game of football on the beach and in the ocean. I'm not sure I've mentioned that most our beaches around here are rather littered. We've got to beware of  broken glass or tin cans. That is not the case at the swim beach. They groom it. There's a HUGE mountain of sand - so I think they keep it pretty well covered and such....we couldn't find sea glass or sand dollars...but no broken glass, strange garbage or tin cans either. The kids really like swimming here. Jared and Arielle mentioned how clean the water is. I guess they aren't particularly impressed with swimming at the base lake. No one had mentioned that to me before. LOL The bathrooms and showers here are certainly cleaner. ::snort::  We'd like to try again with the kayak.....

 Arielle is becoming a lovely young lady, inside and out. I've been thrilled to watch her confidence in social settings increase. She's really coming out of her shell.

Stacia loved that I came in (though not far; it was COLD)...here she gives me non-stop encouragement and swimming tips...."Hop, Mom, hop like this". Yes, I DID have the camera in the ocean...not to fear it wasn't the Nikon DSLR...this is why Michael buys me point and clicks these days.

They've built a cove out of tertrapods....out by the flag it is over Arielle's head....the older ones like the depth....the younger ones are detoured by the waves....and there is a lifeguard on duty...though he's WAY far away from the ocean. I don't quite understand the thought on his placement.

The one shell of the day

Michael, remember the wall we walked on last year? It now sports and English sign....and there were many bikes parked on the wall and elderly Japanese gentlemen  over the barricade fishing....guess they figured only Americans would be criminal to cross it? ::snort::

I discovered my Lands End suit of 3 years ago....has lost its elastic. I'm trying to find another online...but it's a bit late in the season. I guess I can keep using safety pins. LOL

We came home and enjoyed a dinner of grilled salmon, grilled potatoes, buns and fruit. Dessert will be the next post. Mike Skyped....practically, nearly perfect day.

Amazing that last week I was thinking we must not get a summer in Misawa....it was COLD, rainy and foggy....this week....mid 80's...wonder how long it will last?

Choosing Joy!
©2010 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Monday, July 19, 2010

Me and All of Japan

Renee, Ricky and Catherine joined Arielle, Stacia and I for a trip out to the "Dirty Obi" shop today. We were on  a mission for yukatas. Akiko is taking us to the festival in a couple of weeks and we need yukata....summer kimono.  Well....... This place is amazing...room upon room of kimonos, obis, yukatas......overwhelming. The summer yukatas were only Y100.  Then he gave me "special price" - I haven't a clue why.



These are cotton. I washed them. Sleeve fell off one and one shrunk a lot....nice bathrobes...the sleeve that fell off was for Krista - I bet she could fix it. LOL

THIS has got to be one of - if not THE - strangest car I've seen on any of the continents I've lived in.

It is HOT here!!! Hot! 84* last time I checked around noon.  The kids and I thought it would be a great day to go to the swimming beach. Several Americans (Navy Seal included) have drowned in the seas of Northern Japan. Because of this, it is now in the SOFA agreement that we will not swim in beaches north of Hachinohe (which is south of us).  This is the ONE beach that we are allowed to swim in - it's a little man made cove.  This being a Monday during the school year, we expected seclusion. We knew it was a long shot, but we invited several friends to join us. Twlya and Mary and kids did. We had a great time......there was quite a stiff wind and so we're still gritty after a shower. LOL

It seems, however, that me and ALL OF JAPAN thought it would be a good day to go to the beach. Turns out today is a National Holiday - Ocean Day. ::snort:: What are the chances????
Marine Day (海の日, Umi no Hi?), known as 'Ocean Day' or 'Sea Day' is a Japanese national holiday celebrated on the third Monday in July. Many people take advantage of the holiday and summer weather to take a beach trip. As it is a modern secular holiday, there are no traditional ceremonies associated with the day.
This really struck us as funny. I bet it's a story we remember and tell for years to come.

We had dinner and then ran to the base to deliver Jared and Arielle to PYOC.  I watched the kids at the park while Renee ran to see a friend of ours and her new baby. She came back and I ran to the hospital, while Renee and Susane visited. Then I had time to visit with Renee and Susane while we waited for PYOC to conclude....Good day. Tomorrow we venture to the Horse Park.

Choosing Joy!
©2010 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Heat Wave

We had a heat wave today.... 81* at 7:30 p.m. It was HUMID.

Great day to be in the Air Conditioned chapel. ::grin:: Then we headed for Kaikinkoen....Momoishi Beach.

Some enjoy the ocean...

Some enjoy the estuary....

All had fun and STAYED cool! We went to visit the Miss Veedol Swim Beach and found it packed. When been told it was only open in August...um...it was open...but we prefer our quiet beach. Though the showers and western toilets at the Swim Beach are appealing.  

Choosing Joy!
©2010 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Reports from the Rock Pile

The Public Affairs video on the trip Michael describes below:


Click here to read an official article about the outreach.

Choosing Joy!
©2010 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Towada Hanabi

The kids and I went on another ITT trip today. We left base at 3:30 and arrived in Towada by 5:45.  We enjoyed festival food, walked around the "cute town" as my kids deemed it....and settled down for the show. This fireworks show lasted over an hour. It was wonderful. The kids especially liked the surprise fireworks left by a stealth speed boat....exploded out of the water. ::snort::

Lake Towada and the Oirase Gorge is one Japan's National Treasures. The kids suggested we invite some folks to go back up with us and play, picnic, paddle etc.....just what I thought in May at the retreat.


 


The story is that the sculptor's wife died in middle age. He loved her so much he sculpted this of her. Two - reflections....people come from all over to pose with her.....as you can see below.


Some go out on the boats to watch...The lake was gorgeous at night with all the boats lit up....

Saw several yukatas

Amazing how quickly this lush land claims old buildings.


Little red roofs are shrines

The Point and Click (Cannon Power shot) is simply  not up to some situations. I decided I'd rather watch the show, than take poor photos. We'll go back some other time and get photos.

I hadn't realized we could bring STUFF with us on the bus...next time a gazebo (which means I'd need to order one ::snort::), a cooler, some chairs....this time a very nice gentleman offered us one of his carpets. I didn't realize he was a chain smoker when we accepted. ::snort:: He was surprised when we returned it, said our proper salutations, and gave him a little thing of Apple/Vinegar candy chews.

We arrived back at the base at 11:00 p.m. It's 11:57 pm now. A great day.

Choosing Joy!
©2010 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Kids Say & Do the Darndest Things

Stacia commented a couple of nights ago, "Moms that aren't skinny lose their tempers a lot."  WHAT? In my defense, Jared told her that she doesn't know what it sounds like when someone loses their temper. LOL  We have no clue where this came from....honestly we don't even talk about folks "losing their temper"! ::snort::  And, let's just say that I may not be skinny but I AM shrinking..... 
Zander caught a frog. Later Zander was in my bathroom for a VERY long time. When he came out I said, "Zander, did you have a frog in my bathtub?" What a darling smirky smile. I gave him a hug and told him he is so sweet to continue to provide teaching illustrations for me. He didn't quite get it, but gave me a big hug.


This I love! Yesterday, Zander jumped on the elliptical with his Bible...and said, "I like to workout with my Bible. I'm in the New Testament now."  Maybe Stacia thinks I'm a "not skinny Mom" but Zander recognizes that I "like" to spend time with a book or Bible propped on the elliptical for an hour or so each morning. ::snort::

Choosing Joy!
©2010 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

I Know Where the Socks Party!

It began innocently enough. I was promised the "biggest" washer and dryer the base FMO office could send me.  A Whirlpool commercial set arrived.

The dryer would NEVER dry and it was full of lent.....We were told it was Japanese electricity. The washer wouldn't spin out, we were told it was Japanese electricity. We personally purchased a transformer and it made no difference.

Eventually the washer died and they brought me a replacement which spins out just fine on Japanese electricity. ::snort:: At that time, I told them again it takes 180 minutes to dry a normal size load. It makes terrible noise. There is lint everywhere. They suggested I clean the outside lent trap monthly and that this is just the way American appliances run on Japanese electricity.  I decided to move to a natural and cheaper alternative and use the dryer as little as possible.

We continued to change the lint traps OFTEN. We used the dryer as little as possible. It was LOUD. Rainy season came. I tried to dry a load and it never dried. I noticed there was no heat in the dryer at all.

I called FMO. They came out. It appears there is a switch for "no heat" and that had been switched.  I felt so dumb. However, they were HERE now. I put on my "angry eyes". ::snort::  I told them to listen. I put the pair of jeans in there, turned it on and it made a bit of noise. I told them it's LOUD when you let it run for a bit....they seemed a tad alarmed.

They opened the lent trap...took the drum apart...and now...I know where the socks go to party...and the wash cloths and POT HOLDERS...How did they get from the dryer drum to the bottom of the dryer?The gentlemen continued looking....and discovered the belt was frayed (I helpfully pointed it out as they began to put it back together), and the roller was BROKEN...the drum was just doing whatever in there.

They removed the demonic dryer. I'd been putting up with this thing for nine months. I guess the "determined eyes" are needed.

 I  now have a GE...way more knobs and gadgets.....it's QUIET...and I get some loads done in 40 min. This is good with all the RAIN we've been having this week.


Choosing Joy!
©2010 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Touching Lives in Afghanistan - Michael

This was our first foray into an IDP camp (Internally Displaced Persons) to hand out supplies. 

These people were refugees from the fighting to the south.  They were fleeing from Taliban fighters who would intimidate, steal and kill indescrimately amongst the populace.  The camp they were living in was next to or more accurately put, in a garbage dump.  The smell was rather strong.  The filth of the debris was everywhere. 














The tents were shabby, makeshift things hardly worth noticing except for the fact that you knew they were "home" for 87 families and that this was better than where they were coming from.



We had been working toward a trip into the community since I arrived.  It took three months for all of the pieces to fall into place.  We worked with an NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) to make it happen.  The supplies are the result of people sending things to service member that in turn hand off some of these items to the chapel.  The NGO does the work of scouting into the community to find locations that are truly in need.  They also help us to organize the supplies into meaningful and appropriate packages for these families.  We were not able to bring any where as near as many people as we would like, but this was dictated by the need for security and to keep our time "on the ground" to a minimum. 

The kids were very dirty, always a bit hungry and very much in need of true security.  We could not give them any of these, but we were able to give some clothing, shoes and some school supplies. 



The adults walked in a daze that seemed as if they were on the edge of despair.  One might ask why they continue to live in these conditions.  I would love to wax eloquent on the subject, but that is for another time. 

The men were dressed in mostly traditional clothing.  As for the women, some just wore dresses, others had their faces covered, still others wore the full birka.  It was quite an interesting span of choices.


















One of the fun items we passed out was candy.  You know the kids were not sure waht it was although they did not mind taking it.  Our NGO friend opened one lollipop and put it into the mouth of one of the kids.  There was a little bit of resistance and then it was like a light bulb lit up behind the eyes and a huge smile spread from ear to ear.  It was fun to see.  Now for all of you who think we are contributing to tooth decay, yes we are, but only to a minor extent when you consider that this will probably be the only candy any of these kids will have for months on end.  All in all, we are not too concerned about this issue.

Our public affairs folks came along for the trip as well.  I had the fun of being wired for sound during the entire show.  Quite a few times our videographer would stop me and ask questions as he tried to capture everything that was happening.  The video should appear on Youtube and perhaps on an evening news station somewhere - maybe AFN news back home.  The photographer will be posting photos and writing an article as well.













Kudoes go to my Chaplain Assistant, SSgt Brad.  He was a great help in setting things up and keeping things orderly at the distribution site.  Kudoes also go to our NGO folks who organized all of the supplies.  Huge kudoes go to the UK contingent who organized all of our force protection and transportation issues.  Both Brad and I were very impressed at their professionalism and thoroughness.  We hope to do another trip sometime in the future.

-Michael

Choosing Joy!
©2010 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...