Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Takao Trick Art Museum

At the suggestion from another boy mom(Hi, Jamie!), we went to Takao Trick Art Museum. I think I was just as excited to navigate there as I was to actually visit there. We even took an alternate route to avoid tolls. Because we're thrifty like that. Except we forgot the 1000 yen worth of museum coupons. And we forgot to validate our 600 yen worth of parking. Oops.

I'm trying to remember to snap more pictures as we commute, but I'm usually concentrating too hard on trying not to die, sweating, shaking, and telling Sean how to drive. I'm the best at that. Sean loveloveloves it when I tell him how to drive. Especially when I say(yell) super obvious things like, "ERT!" and "Don't run her over. DON'T RUN HER OVER!"

I do appreciate that even when you're doing your best to not run over pedestrians, mopeds, bicycles, and, oh, CARS, they throw in the random construction zone. In an intersection...around a curve. I will say, the Japanese people can pave a road, now. In a minute. Okay, a day, but compared to back home, they get the job done. We had one construction worker bow at us today. He held us up so a truck could get out and all the while he was smiling and nodding and bowing at us. :)

Anyways, the museum. Perfect for my guys. We had a great time. 

These paintings are all 2D-flat on the walls and floors. The illusions and perspective blow my mind!
 If we go back, I'd plan this one better and make them wear matching sweatshirts.

Jude didn't quite get all the illusions, but it just made for funnier pictures. 
Best dad ever! Jude was not amused.
We spent way too much time at the crocodiles. 
This one fits right in to the kawaii culture. 

 This was my favorite illusion. We had a ton of fun in this room!

They gave us a free drink token with admission. Simon took a video of how the drink machines work--it's awesome--and will probably post it on his blog. 

After the museum, we went to what has quickly become our favorite sushi spot. I did tell Sean tonight that I have had my fill of sushi for the week and it's time for something else. It can't be beat, though. We ate 40 plates of sushi for what we would've spent on a Chick fil A dinner back home. And lemme tell ya, as much as I imagine I'll crave a Chick fil A sammich a year from now, it doesn't compare. 
That was our adventure for today. Tomorrow makes one month that we've been here. Holy smokes, it's gone fast. It hasn't been without it's bumps in the road, but we're getting there. :)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Mt. Fuji

I suppose our first trip ought to Mt. Fuji ought to be documented. Simon thought so, too. He started his own blog. Simon Says...great name, right? Which is why someone else had already snagged that as their blogger address. We tried using eighteen different variations of Japanese words for "says," but no luck. Sean gave him the idea for yenniesinmypocket.blogspot.com. I don't know how long he'll stick with it. Knowing Simon, until the day he dies. He'll probably be more consistent with blogging than I am. He has to have somewhere to showboat his gopro pictures, no? He's pretty good with his camera. I'm excited about the fact that I don't have to lug my camera along much anymore and that I get to be in pictures every once in a while.

So, Mt. Fuji. It's about an hour away, but it's right there in our panorama every day. Well, most days. Some days it blends in with the sky. A friend invited us to go sledding. Her husband shuttled me all over town hunting down snow gear. It was kinda funny shopping with another man. I had to stay focused. I couldn't get distracted as I am sometimes wont to do when presented with retail opportunities. He took me to the greatest thrift store EVER and I couldn't even wander. I just went for the jacket and got out. Have I mentioned that Jude's brandbrandbrand new North Face jacket was lost on the trip? We've called everywhere, it's gone. I can't get over it. It was brand new! Sean has insisted I give up, but NEVER! I have one more place to call...

Back to Mt. Fuji. We got all dudded up and away we went. There was a wreck in one of the tunnels along the way that slowed us down, but it gave us longer to take in the surroundings. We also got to see a Japanese man jump out of his car and whiz on the side of the road. Right there in front of God and everybody. Bumper to bumper traffic. Men!

After getting through the traffic jam it was smooth sailing right up to the base of Mt. Fuji. As it turns out, we have a Japanese car. Not like the Japanese cars in America, an actual Japanese car. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I compare the engine to a lawn mower. It has no power. We hit ice and the little engine that couldn't, didn't. I thought maybe we were just on the unplowed road. We tried a different route. It was also unplowed. As it turns out, all the roads were unplowed.

 We went with plan B. Our friends took us to a little town with a tram. We scooted up the side of another mountain, crammed into a little tram with 40 of our closest Asian friends. By friends, I mean, strangers, of course. It gave me some insight into what everyone has been telling us about the trains in Tokyo.
Looking down from the top of the tram. 
I brought my big camera on this trip, but I have no way to get the pictures off of it. I'd like to visit this same little town in the Spring, just to see how different it all looks. The kids were bummed they didn't get to go sledding--I don't think it's altogether fair that they don't count sliding down an ice covered road in a minivan as "sledding," but whatever.--but we still had a great day. 

I'll have Simon post the rest of his pictures since he is able to get to his pictures. Don't forget to check out his new blog(yenniesinmypocket.blogspot.com). Please don't judge me or his teacher, who also happens to be me, for his misspellings. He entered the male rectal cranial inversion phase many moons ago. Grandpa came up with that and it cracks me up every time I say it...rectal cranial inversion, ha! 

Monday, January 30, 2017

Ten on Tuesday

This may end up being more than ten, depending on how long my kids stay asleep. I have a lot to say!

1) Japan is awesome. I am so happy to be here. If only I could explain to my 12-week-ago-self just how amazing it is, I wouldn't have done so much kicking and screaming on the way here.

2) Japanese people do not cut Americans any slack. I thought smiling and looking dumb would get me a lot further than it has. Nope.

3) That said, I can't believe how much Japanese we've picked up in the five days we've been here.

4) I've driven all over the base. Sean has driven on and off base. I'm not quite brave enough to go off base yet. Maybe today.

5) I went to the elementary school yesterday to sign Felix and Titus up for specials. They allow homeschoolers to join in on some of the classes. I think it would be great for them to take the culture classes and learn some Japanese. As I was standing in the hallway, throwing my two littlest Mom-Eyes, a class walked by. I recognized one of the little girls and gave her a wave, but the teacher also caught my eye. As I stared at her, she gave a little stare back. "I know you!" I've had several experiences of recognizing people here, but really, how many people would one truly know on the other side of the planet? This one I knew. She was Simon's second grade teacher in Texas. He wasn't even in a DOD school. I didn't know she was in the military. And now she's going to be my other second graders teacher.

6) The two bigs went to jiu jitsu last night. Once, okay? For an hour. Probably less than an hour. As I was making dinner* I overheard one of my children say to the other, "Don't mess with me! I'm studying jiu jitsu!" As I laughed and laughed(to myself) all I could think of in that moment is that my children have the potential to turn into Napoleon Dynamite. Don't laugh too hard, I've seen y'all's kids and they have that very same potential. Guide them well.

7) The commissary here straight up made me cry. The first time I went, it was familiar, but not. When I realized they had absolutely nothing of the little bit I actually buy at the commissary back in the states, I was not thrilled. It will now be where I go to buy toilet paper and paper plates and that's about it. Thankfully, a friend took me off base to a local grocery store and I couldn't stop smiling. I'm not entirely sure of everything we bought there--whether certain things were meat or dairy or some substitute--but it was all tasty and didn't make us sick!

8) *Making dinner consists of going to one of the many wonderful restaurants or grocery stores. We've been for Ramen. We've been for Thai. I've been for fancy bagels at a restaurant called Hoop. Most of our meals have come from the grocery store. They have huge sections of sushi and fish and prepared foods. It's so cheap to buy it already made. I may be spoiling myself a tad, but I'm kinda loving not cooking a ton. I assume that will wear off eventually, but for now, I'm all about trying new things.

9) The people here have made all the difference. Sean's coworkers have been amazing, right from the start. One of them had the whole anesthesia group over for dinner at her house. One of them loaned us his car until we buy our own. One friend I made through a mutual friend back in Texas. I seriously don't know what I'd do without her. She encouraged me along the way as we were getting here and now she's toting me all over the place, acclimating me to the area. She has introduced me to so many people and has made sure I'm never the odd man out. All of these awesome people have equally awesome kids. My boys have friends! Good kids, too, not friends I have to worry about. God is good. He really did have it all worked out.

10) If every military base was like Yokota, nobody would ever separate(get out of the military, I mean).

**If you're looking for pictures, you can find me on Instagram(christopherkmc). That's really the only place I'm posting them lately. I'm too lazy to post them two places and Facebook reminds me that everyone in America hates each other over a fact they can't change. He's our President, move on! So...Instagram it is!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

the Koukouas

**Not a post about Japan. They are coming, but we're so crazy busy enjoying a full life that I haven't had time to sit down and type it all out. I will, because I don't want to forget anything about this first week, but for now I will post this one that I wrote up last month. This family is now happily settled back in Montana and my con's column is much shorter now that we're here. :)

This little family is another gem I can put in the pro's column of military life. When the con's column gets heavy, and it's real heavy right now, the pros side still wins when it comes to relationships we've made thanks to dear ole Uncle Sam. 
They've only been here a few short months and they're already on their way back out. They're one of those families that makes one feel like an idiot American. No, it's true. They speak like eighteen languages amongst them and the little one's babble really does sound more intelligent than my one and only language. 
Jireh has become quite the military baby in the short amount of time he's served. He's a pro at being happy while being passed from lap to lap. He gives a guarded once over and agrees to being happy and cuddly so long as one understands he still prefers his mama. 
Brice and Kristel stepped into the music role at church. Brice learned to play the piano on a piece of paper. A piece of paper! He is absolutely amazing. I've never seen Sean be taken aback by someone else's skills. 

Lest any reader has given up on finding true love...
Brice is from the Ivory Coast. Kristel is from Montana. The story goes that Kristel had recently returned from living in Honduras to her small town in Montana. She'd given up on men and Brice wasn't all that interested in finding a woman. Via mutual acquaintances, these two ended up at a salsa dance...in Montana. Being the ignorant white person that I am, I would previously have assumed that there aren't a ton of West Africans who know how to salsa dance. I would also have previously assumed there aren't a ton of Montanans that would be salsa dancers. Shows what I know. 
Another funny little anecdote to their story is that they were both interested in the other, fairly quickly. Brice sent a quick prayer up that he was not going to pursue getting her number. If God wanted him to go for it, he(God) would have to work out the securing of her phone number. As salsa dancing goes, it must be a noisy sport. The dance hall was too noisy for them to work out the details of what Kristel was hoping would be their next get together. She hosted salsa dances at her home from time to time and thought maybe he'd like to come to her next one. As she couldn't convey her phone number to him over the noise, she said, "Here, I'll just put my number into your phone."
And the happily ever after is now. 

The military sometimes has some pretty silly rules when soldiers are students. For instance, this family could only be together in a public place or outdoors. When we were coming up with ideas for these family pictures, I asked Kristel, "What sticks out in your mind the most about your time here? What do you want to remember?" She said they spent most of their time playing Bananagrams at the park. 

Brice's closed eyes, LOVE!!! It's like he was just breathing them in. 

I'm going to miss this sweet family. I hate that I'll have to know them from here on out via Facebook. I wish that we'd been given more time. I would love to have seen Jude finally come around to loving this sweet boy as much as I do. It would be awesome to continue being a big military family, but that's not how this thing works. We all know it and hate it, but we are so very, very grateful that for a time, God saw fit to write us into each other's story. 
For that, I am thankful. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Jude, lately

I frequently ask the males what they're thinking about when they're accidentally quiet. I typically get the same response, and I'm starting to think it may be the truth, "Nothing." How do males simply think about nothing? Like, nothing nothing? Or like not worth mentioning nothing? There is a difference.

Jude caught me staring off into space and asked,

"Whatcha thinkin' about? You thinkin' about me?"

He leaves no room for reply. The question mark between questions was more of a brief pause.


He's the first jealous kid we've ever had. There's one particular little angel face that always falls asleep in my arms at church. He does not like that baby. I don't know if it's because I sniff baby Ji Ji's hair. I don't know if it's because I go all heart eyes when I see this particular baby or what. All I know is that he is incredibly jealous of babies that are smaller than him. Especially if I or Sean or Grandma or Grandpa happen to hold said baby. In an attempt to soften him towards babies in general, I figured Christmas books might help. Tonight it was a simple story about baby Jesus that featured many pictures of sweet baby Jesus lying in a manger.

"Awww, look at the baby. Babies are so sweet. They're small and helpless and we should love and protect babies." On and on and on I went. I looked over to see his brow furrowed and his unblinking stare of disapproval,

"I hate babies. I shouldn't say hate."

Again, the period between the two sentences, a brief pause. He didn't give me time to say that he shouldn't say hate. The fact that he stated on his own that he shouldn't say hate lets me know he's listening. I'm not one of those moms that doesn't allow my kids to use the word "hate." They can use the word. They understand the word, even the three year old. Sometimes the word "hate" is needed. However, they get a talking to if they link hate with people. They can hate the weather. They can hate that we're moving. They can hate a game or a show or a meal. I also let them use the word stupid. Because in this day and age, there's a lot of stupid.


The little two were doing the bedtime stall routine tonight. Jude bribed me to lay with them by offering to brush my hair. As if I'd say no to that deal. 400 questions later, Titus asked, "So when I get married, my wife will get our last name?" I don't know where these questions come from or why they wait until bedtime to ask, but I somehow follow their rabbit trails and end up talking the night away. Jude joins in with,

"When will I get married?"
"When you're old and have met a girl you love. A girl that you want to spend the rest of your life with. The perfect one for you."
"A girl wike you?"

Man, I love him. Just to keep things real, he did sock one of his brothers square in the mouth today. Hard enough to bust a lip and draw blood. He's a puzzle, that one. A rico suave that takes no crap offa his brothers.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Ten on Tuesday

because I will do ANYTHING to avoid the tasks at hand.

1Hands down, the greatest thing I managed to keep up with this year is the 1 second every day video. I'm not going to post it here because this is a public blog and there are certain clips I don't want strangers to see. If you want to see it, it's on my Facebook page. :D

2We have a grand total of eight days left in our home.

3We have no renter or buyer, as of yet. Two serious lookers, but nothing has been signed.

4We have three separate moving companies coming on five different dates during our eight days left. One company to pack our household goods. They will be packing over two days and picking up on the third. Household goods for non-military folk is the majority of our stuff. The furniture, mattresses, dishes, toys, etc. A second company will come take anything we can do without while we're in Japan and carry it off to storage. That will be most of the stuff in the garage: grill, my good couch, a few dressers that I don't think will fit, at least half of the pictures hanging on my walls, all of my scrapbooks. The third company will be gathering and shipping unaccompanied baggage. That is all the stuff we'll need until the last minute and will want as quickly as possible but can't fit in our suitcases. The coffee press, towels, sheets, air mattresses, pillows, a pot and pan.

5We have a humongous attic. It spans the entire length and depth of our house. The fun part about all of this is that the movers will not access the attic. It wouldn't be the worst thing in the world except for the fact that with all the showings we've had, I shoved as much stuff as possible in the attic to give the house an uncluttered look. Good times, good times.

6We have been continuously disappointed in humans throughout this process. Not just the regular "cut off in traffic" disappointments. More like the "I see you're desperate and am going to take advantage of you" disappointments. Something along the lines of if I had the nerve to punch someone in the face, I'd break every bone in my hand. Sean and I both swing from super spiritual to Richard Pryor these days. Muchly based on the actions of others. I know, I know...we can choose how we respond, but when someone lowballs an offer for the millionth time(!!!!!) it doesn't necessarily bring out the best in either of us.

7On that note, used cars salesmen are swine. Absolute swine. Locals, don't buy from Auto Haus. They'll screw ya coming and going. They apparently don't care about word of mouth. Or word of social media. Or the word of a service member, medical professional who loves to chat about our experience.

8This guy turned 14 a few weeks ago. I don't even want to talk about it. Just kidding. Birthdays around here have been a tad overshadowed by the move. He did manage to snag a homemade rum cake and a pile of goodies. He's holding his go pro that he saved diligently for. We were going to get it for his birthday, but he was insistent he get it a few weeks before his birthday with his own cash. I didn't want to discourage him from saving, so we let him go for it. He's already recouped all the money he spent. The kid is a machine.

9My sister and her family came up for Christmas. My parents had no idea they were coming, so Simon was able to catch the surprise. I'd come in under the guise of picking up my mom for some last minute shopping. I said, "I forgot my phone in the car," and my sister walked back into their house instead of me. :) It was awesome. I love their reaction. 

10If everyone who is praying will keep it up, we will be so grateful. It helps. We've reached some pretty low lows over the last few weeks. The stress is...it's intense. It hasn't necessarily brought out the best in us, but we're getting there. Together. I don't know what the list of top stresses on a marriage are, but I have to think moving is way up there and we've got this nasty habit of moving ALL THE TIME. As do most military families. Geez Louise, though, I'm ready for a break. The smell of cardboard makes me break out in cold sweats. 

That is all. I must go pack or sort or throw away something. 

Monday, January 02, 2017

Hoof Hearted

I had to post these. 
 I almost didn't take these as the offender had my eyes watering from behind the camera. 
 But I needed to make sure everybody was in the frame anyway. 
 I snatched a couple of hilarious shots. Can you tell who did it?

 I got one decent picture of everybody. My family. I love them all. Even the stinky ones. We're missing a few, but this is representative of what our family looks like these days. We don't all head to Florence anymore. There are no more babies. We are all spread out and circumstances don't allow for what we once had. I'll take it though. It makes it that much more special when we are together. 
 I am so thankful for these people.