Friday, August 29, 2008

Shopping, Funny Shirts, Doctor Car and Wahaha!

A little bit to catch up on! Earlier this week we went back to Jusco with Julie and Noah. It's a department store and small shopping mall. I got some Engrish shirts, this time in adult size! The girls also got a toy that they love and keeps them entertained without arguments! The packaging and instructions were all in Japanese, so thankfully it has three buttons and takes three AA batteries. It plays a song and has no volume adjustment, but I'll live. We ate lunch out a little food court in the middle of the store. Sydney was being extra clingy, whiny and annoying, and she was really starting to get to me!

The ground floor of Jusco is a grocery store. There we found some goodies...and one thing I've never seen or heard of before. That chocolate, you read it right, that's salt chunks inside the chocolate. Nope, haven't tried it and don't plan on it either. Then basil and tomato Pringles, and the toy for the girls has a ferris wheel and train that are both motorized.

Julie was up in Tokyo during the week and brought back Tea Kit Kats and Oreo bars with macadamia nuts inside! I'm not exactly sure what kind it is and Julie wasn't sure either. I think the packaging looks like the tea that is served in Chinese restaurants. More to add to my Kit Kat collection, and I've already updated my Kit Kat list. Thanks Julie!

On Thursday Keanna's preschool on the main base had an orientation. Julie and I rode together since our kids are in the same class and we both had errands to run on base afterward. On the way home I heard the sirens coming from behind, looked in the mirror and sure enough, ambulance. I pulled over, they passed, and this was our view. Julie snapped the photo with her camera, but this is a perfect example as to why I always have a camera on me, always!

Today Julie, Myra and I went to Costco...oh yeah, and we took our kids too! Julie snapped a picture of us walking in. The kids loved the motorized walkway. We were surprised when we saw it the first time back in May, and it's still just as much fun. The shopping cart doesn't move on it...our guess was magnets. The kids got a kick out of it though! We have free samples here just like in the United States, only here we have raw tuna, octopus and wine! I didn't get a picture of the wine though, but promise to next time I see it. While walking around something caught my eye. As soon as I saw it I reached into my pocket for my cell phone. I had to call Susan. Had to call her and tell her what I found. But that wasn't exactly possible with a Japanese cell phone. I have been on the hunt for this ever since we arrived in March, and Susan was kind enough to get me the UPC so I could request it at the commissary. And what was it that had me so excited? Just as excited as when I saw the Carvel cake in the frozen section of the commissary? It was Langer's Mango Nector. We absolutely adore this stuff, and finding it today (and buying three bottles) made my week!

Keanna Loves the Wii Fit

And she especially likes the table tilt game. I took a video of her today, and it's just over 8 minutes long. The first half she plays with Sydney cheering her on saying, "Go Keanna Beth go!" She does okay, even tells Sydney she's doing her best; then she decides to play again. During her second attempt she explains to Sydney how my name is Katie and dad's name is Bob. They call him dad, but I call him Bob. It's cute. If you watch it, at least watch the second half of it to listen to them talk and to see Keanna score her second highest ever...she was so proud of herself...that comes up around the 6 min 30 seconds mark. Shortly after she expresses her excitement, then explains her Engrish shirt, "Love. Happy soul of love myself." For those of you reading this in your email, you'll need to go to the blog website. Click the link at the bottom of this email that says "You are subscribed to email updates from Pass the Chopsticks - U.S. Navy Family in Japan."

Monday, August 25, 2008

Monday, Monday

My dad is 58 today. I don't think he'll care that I post his age, but when my mom's birthday comes in December I know better not to publicize hers! And happy birthday to Uncle Rodney too! Hope you don't mind me posting your age either. And in case you haven't figured it out, they're twins. In the first picture dad's showing the girls how he makes ice cream at Mortensens' Restaurant in Newington, CT. I've helped countless times from toddler to adulthood, and it never gets old! The second is with my mom when they came to visit us in Hawaii, and the last is him coming down the hatch of Bob's last submarine...and that's Bob in the background.

Yesterday was a rainy day, so since our plans of heading up to Tokyo with Julie and Noah were scrapped, we stayed home and baked brownies. Keanna woke up yesterday and today insisting we all wear our "cooker hats" as she calls them. On Saturday she and Sydney took plastic bags and put it around their feet...I thought they were going to attempt plastic bag sack races! Keanna brought the handles up to her knees and twisted and tied hers, put it on her head and said, "Look mom, I'm a cooker!" Then suddenly there was one for Sydney, one for me and one for Bob. But since Bob isn't here, the girls insisted it sit on his chair at the kitchen table awaiting his return. So after we all had our hats on, they wanted a picture taken so we could send it to him on the ship. That's right fellow submarine wives, I can email him photos underway! Anyway, I took a picture with my laptop so the quality is poor, but it captures the moment. Mine and Sydney's hats are NEX bags and Keanna's is from WalMart. No, there isn't a Walmart here, but there are still some in my bag holder thing. I wish the other side was showing because it says "Aloha" on it and has the Hawaiian Islands on it as well. She instructed the bow go in the front, and believe it or not, they are custom fit. Well, Sydney was fussing with hers so it loosened.

After lunch we made the brownies, and since Bob's not here I let them have some of the batter. Normally we all have a bite each and Bob tries to scrape out the bowl, but we totally took advantage of him not being here and kept it for ourselves. I actually had two bites and let them go to town. Anyways, the two of them really did go to town before I poured it in the pan! By the time the oven had preheated I realized we had eaten so much that the 13"x9" would be too big. I opened up the cabinet expecting to find my Longaberger 8"x8" but nope, the pie plate was right there in front and that's what I went with. Keanna was so excited to have a brownie pie, so when it cooled enough to cut, I cut them in pie slices. Needless to say, that went over quite well! As you can Sydney still has batter on her face. She insisted she could lick it off, but yeah, obviously that didn't happen! The brownies came out great, and as Keanna pointed out, they're just like Bob likes them, nice and mushy in the middle!

Sunday, August 24, 2008


It's a little after 10 p.m. on Sunday night and I'm sitting here on the couch watching the closing ceremonies (live) to the Olympics; it's on one of the seven or eight Japanese channels we get with Americable. It's great to see it before everyone in the United States. This bus just drove around that looks like a double-decker from London, and people came out of the top of it. I'm not going to spoil it for you, but it's pretty impressive. I recognize faces, but can't understand the commentators one bit! I know it's going to air on NBC in the United States Monday night (EST), so my guess is one of the Armed Forces Network (AFN) channels will get the NBC signal and we'll get to watch it tomorrow morning. At least then I'll be able to follow it better, although it'll be shortened and edited.

Speaking of the Olympic Games, I've been trying to use it as a lesson for the girls. Not so much the sporting aspect of it, but the patriotic part. I think every child should have a sense of where they're from, and with that should come patriotism. Anytime we watched an American on the gold medal podium, the three of us stood up and put our hands on o
ur hearts when our National Anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner," came on. I'm trying to teach and explain to them what makes our country so special. And not only what makes it special, but more importantly, I want to instill in them the respect they need to show to our flag. They know that we put our hands on our heart, and when Bob is in uniform he'll salute the flag. We see it everywhere, even here in Japan on the bases and mililtary housing installations. I'm not sure if Keanna will learn the Pledge of Alligiance when she starts school next week, but I certainly hope so.

I showed them a map of the world along with the different colors and countries. Keanna was excited that we live in a green country because that's her favorite color! Anyway, I told them that each country has their own flag, and since we live in Japan we see the Japanese flag, but we see the American flag too because of Bob's job. Since we're from the United States the American flag is special to us, and because of that we treat it with respect. I didn't get into the fact that there are 50 stars that stand for our 50 states. The 13 stripes stand for the original 13 British colonies, and that in 1776 we gained our independence from England by the signing of the Declaration of Independence; they wanted to govern t
hemselves rather than be ruled by a king. Both of them looked to see what I did when putting my hand on my heart, and I told them to look at me or the people on TV doing it. After the song ended the Olympians would wave to the crowd, and naturally the girls did that too. After all, they did listen to me, I told them to do what they see! By the time Michael Phelps won his eighth gold medal, the girls stopped what they were doing, stood up and put their hands on their heart.

Their father is an officer in the United States Navy. As I said before, we see the American flag every day-at the entry to the bases, outside of people's homes here, and at our house as well. Of course we appreciate our country, rights and freedoms, but being a military family, we have a deeper appreciation and sense of sacrifice than others. This picture is from November 2007 when Bob's sub returned from their deployment. You can see the American flag waving, and the red, white and blue lei that adorns the sub for homecoming. The wives and families were on a small boat and we rode along side the sub as it came up the channel into Pearl Harbor. Bob's on the far left looking through the binoculars.

This website provides guidelines for displaying the American Flag.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

An Afternoon Out in 逗子市 (Zushi)

I want begin by saying I absolutely love living in Japan, and after our day yesterday it's really sunk in how sweet the people are here. We weren't thrilled about being told we were leaving Hawaii about a year ahead of schedule, but I'm telling you, I just adore the people, the culture and the food. It's a shame Bob has missed on out everything, but the kids and I are making the most of it even without him here.
Things have been quiet this past week. The weather has cooled off and has finally gotten under 95 degrees. Since it was in the high 70s I told the girls on Thursday that tomorrow we could take a ride on the train and walk around the center of town. They were so excited to take a train ride, so no matter what we did it didn't matter to them! I had talked to Myra a little bit before then and told her we were bored, the rain looked like it was going to hold out, and I had decided to go for a walk around Zushi Ginza. She was happy to tag along, so off we went. I took some pictures too, and to see them click here and you'll be brought to my Shutterfly album. I have descriptions under just about all of them too, so you'll have an idea of what you're looking at!
We had been to this area before on the walking tour of Zushi we took back in June, so we had a pretty good idea of where to go and how to get there too. We walked around, shopped and ate dinner out too. I hadn't planned on being gone for nearly six hours, but we were really enjoying ourselves and decided to eat at the little Hawaiian restaurant we had heard so much about.
First we went to a 7-11 and got some Kit Kats Myra hadn't gotten yet, after that we went to the grocery store then to a 100 yen store (just like a $1 store in the U.S.), and after that we stopped at a farmer's market. Then we found a little clothing store that had an awesome sale going on. I bought a few t-shirts for the girls...and only because they were Engrish. Myra and I were laughing hysterically at some of them, and of course I took pictures.

While we were looking at the racks just outside the store, a woman walked out and started patting Keanna on the head and trying to make her laugh and make faces. She was showing her the charms on her cell phone. There were at least five or six of them, and I can't imagine how heavy and uncomfortable they must make the phone! Suddenly she started taking one off and gave it to Keanna! We were shocked and taken aback by how sweet and thoughtful it was. Keanna was thrilled to say the least, and poor Sydney was sitting in the stroller facing the other direction eating her haichu candy. After she saw how appreciative we were and how happy Keanna was, she took another one off and gave it to Katelyn. Completely unnecessary, but so nice. We bowed and thanked her, Keanna gave her a hug, then she was off on her little scooter.
We went to eat at the little Hawaiian place around the corner from where we were, and thankfully there was English in the menu. They didn't have the wax food on the outside and they didn't have pictures in the menu either. Anyway, they serving dinner yet, but we were able to have a choice of a few things off the menu. The girls were so excited to have watermelon, a cherry and flower in their apple juice, and as tempting as it was to get a nice domestic Japanese beer, I opted for a Coke. Myra went with the safe bet of basil and tomato pizza, and I went out on a limb with devilfish and avocado pizza. I figured it would have raw fish on it and slices of avocado. Nope, turns out devilfish is octopus! I think the reaction on my face was priceless and terrifying, because I had to pick my jaw up off the floor! I gave it a try though, and boy was it delicious! It also completes my task for something round for Shari's weekly photo challenge. Almost forgot! See the little pin I'm wearing? It's actually a submarine. I've bought them over the years at the Dolphin Store on the various sub bases Bob's been stationed at, but I wanted some more. Since we're not on a submarine base, there's no Dolphin Store here. Some friends offered to get them for me, but I decided to ordered them online...and they arrived Friday! I couldn't help but put one on in the parking lot of the post office. They're so cute, and FYI, she ships USPS...only took a few days to get here from Hawaii!
As we were leaving the two girls working were so helpful. One got the stroller set up for me and the other picked Sydney up and put her in there. As we were walking across the street they stood outside waving goodbye and even bowed! And as we were leaving, the guys working behind the counter bowed and said "Arigato" to us a few times. While we were waiting to cross the street Keanna yelled, "See ya" to them and Sydney immediately followed. The girls yelled back, "Sayonara," and Keanna, Sydney and Katelyn all did the same.
As for our finds yesterday....we had lots! Myra introduced us to haichu candy, and now Keanna and Sydney can't get enough of it. We've had grape, apple, strawberry and kiwi, but yesterday we found mango and lychee! As for Pringles, French Consommé and Smoky Salami have been added to the collection. A few days ago Julie got me milk flavored Kit Kats, and yesterday I found brown sugar Kit Kats. I've updated my list too.

100 Days!

It's been 100 days since I started the blog...just over three months, and it's certainly gone by quickly. On the side bar, a.k.a. the right margin, I've got a few gadgets that are unique, handy and helpful. From the weather and a map of where visitors have come from, to the Japanese word of the day, it may be worth a peak. I know a lot of you readers subscribe in your email, so please take a few minutes, click the link at the bottom of the email and check out the main page. And please vote in my poll titled "Who Are You?"

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Fun & Games

It's been a slow week with not a whole lot going on. I've been getting stuff done around the house, and it's about time too. Finally got pictures hung up on the walls, and in the hallway too leading to the front door. One side is cement, so a hammer and nail doesn't quite cut it. After meeting Myra for her birthday dinner over the weekend we went to the mini mart. She pointed out these hook things that are made for cement walls. The hooks are large, so I knew they wouldn't work hanging a few of my pictures, but for a couple that have a wire in back it worked like a charm! So thanks, Myra! It's finally starting to feel like a home, and it's really nice to have the pictures and clutter off the floor!

Julie's taking a class this week, so every evening we're watching Noah for a few hours. Keanna's really doing well with the Wii Fit, and she's got Noah hooked; Julie even gave a few games a shot...including yoga. (Hey Scott, I think you ought to look into a bigger TV and then a Wii!!!) He doesn't quite have it down yet, so she's guiding him along...literally! She holds his waist or shoulders to help him out. I took some picture of them doing the hula hoop, ski jump and soccer heading games together. You have to move from side to side and shift your weight to go between the flags. You'll also be able to see the pictures hung up around the TV. FYI, the nail on the outside edge of the picture frame is 14" from the corner and 17.5" from the ceiling. Not only did I measure, but I used the level since all six frames match. And the curtains are totally ghetto! The tracks and clips were here and on the ceiling when we arrived...they're like that in all the townhouses on Ikego (our housing base). Well I couldn't find any window dressings that would work and hang on them, so I took Brenda's idea. I attached a paperclip to the existing clip, then attached a little clip from the 100 yen store (16 of them for 100 yen which is about $1) and attached those to the top of the attaches similar to a clothes pin but is a clear circle about the size of a dime.

And speaking of the 100 yen store, remember that funky toilet paper holder we have in our bathrooms here? I posted pictures of it a couple of months ago, but to save you from going back to find it, here's the direct link to it. Last time the girls and I were there I found this Hello Kitty toilet paper cover and holder. The best part was the price, can't beat ¥100! I had to detach our holder from the wall, but it's only three screws so not bad at all. Then I poked holes in the fabric where the screws would go and reattached it to the wall. Only problem is it's a tight fit holding the spare roll below. Apparently our toilet paper rolls are much larger than Japanese toilet paper rolls! But I got it in the holder and will probably just leave it in there for show (it's in the downstairs half bath) from now on and get a spare roll out of the plastic wrapping!

Lastly, Dawn it was great instant messaging with you earlier today! I told you I had a package for the kids...and yeah, I told you that at the beginning of the summer, but I wanted to prove it to you. Here's a picture of the package. Tomorrow when we go to check the mail at the post office I'm going to bring it with me, fill out the customs form and get it the heck off my dryer! There are coloring books in there for the kids, and I'm still looking for notebooks for you that have the binding on the other side. The coloring books are like that, and I know you're left handed.
Almost forgot! We all know Hello Kitty originated in Japan as did Pokemon. A fellow submarine wife asked me if Pokémon and Naruto were as popular here as in the United States. Her son is a big fan of both and was curious. My guess is yes, but when I'm out shopping I'll take a picture of the displays. At the 100 yen store here in Zushi there was a huge Hello Kitty area...I'm pretty sure there was for Pokémon as well. FYI, that's the Japanese website for Pokémon, and I already used the translation option through Google. I haven't heard of Naruto, but will be on the lookout from now on.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Speaking of Kit Kats

Bob's in Korea for work, and today was a day off since it's Liberation Day (a.k.a. Victory Over Japan Day) there. With the official surrender of Japan to the Allied forces on August 15, 1945, the 35-year colonization of Korea by the Japanese came to an end. August 15, 1948 also marks the establishment of the Republic of Korea. He said a bunch of guys went out into Pusan to eat and shop.

When he got back to the communal barracks room (he described it as a boot camp style room for 40 people) we chatted on MSN Messenger and were even able to do a video conference. He showed me what he got for me, and guess what, Kit Kats! I updated my list of flavors to reflect what he got, Chocolatier Noir. While he was holding up both flavors I took a screen shot (hit "PRTSC" to do it) showing our conversation window and thought it'd be fun to post it here. The other flavor he got is regular, but in Korean wrapping. A minute or two afterward it was "lights out" so perfect timing.

On a side note, apparently having a Japanese IP address allows for different themes. I don't know what I have now since the names are in Kanji, but it's pretty and colorful...there are a lot more, one of which has koi fish swimming around!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Kit Kat Kount

While researching Kit Kits a couple of weeks ago I came across this site. I think it ( shows the flavors out and future flavors being released! I immediately sent it to Julie then tried translating it with no luck. If anyone can translate it please let me know!

Here's the list I've compiled from searching various and reliable websites. I've highlighted what I've found and purchased. They even have their own shelf in one of the kitchen cabinets! As you can see below I've got my work cut out for goal is to find as many flavors as possible. Most of these are seasonal, so when we arrived Cherry Blossom was out, but I had no idea I'd become so interested in this, so I didn't buy them. Guess it'll have to wait until next year, along with lots of others.

-Kit Kat Dark Chocolate — UK, Canada, China permanent edition, Japan, US miniatures and limited edition
-Kit Kat Bitter — Japan limited edition — bitter dark chocolate coating with 62% cocoa content
-Kit Kat White Chocolate — UK, US, China permanent edition, Australia, Japan limited edition
-Kit Kat White with Hokkaido Milk — Japan limited edition
-Kit Kat White Bretagne — Japan limited edition — white chocolate coating w/Bretagne milk and cocoa butter
-Kit Kat Apple — Japan
-Kit Kat Banana — Japan, Canada limited edition
Kit Kat Sakura (Cherry Blossom) — Japan limited edition
-Kit Kat Double Berry — Japan limited edition — combo cherry and strawberry flavored crème filling
-Kit Kat Muskat of Alexandria (White Grape) — Japan limited edition
-Kit Kat Lemon Cheesecake— Japan, Malaysia limited edition
-Kit Kat Yubari Melon — Japan — melon flavored crème in the wafer
-Kit Kat Hokkaido Yubari Melon — Japan — like above but w/ creamy melon flavored coating, not milk chocolate

-Kit Kat Brown Sugar
-Kit Kat Tea — Japan
-Kit Kat Passion Fruit — Japan limited edition
-Kit Kat Pineapple — Japan limited edition
-Kit Kat Strawberry — Japan, Canada and UK limited edition
-Kit Kat Ichigo (Strawberry) Milk — Japan limited edition — strawberry milk coating & creme filling in wafers
-Kit Kat Tsubu Strawberry — Japan limited edition — strawberry coating with freeze dried strawberry pieces

-Kit Kat Soy Sauce — Tokyo limited edition
-Kit Kat Azuki Bean, Green Tea, and Cream MULTI-FLAVOR (Kakigori) — Japan limited edition
-Kit Kat Café Latte with Hokkaido Milk — Japan
Kit Kat Olympic Gold – Japan
-Kit Kat Chocolatier Noir (Dark) — Japan limited edition — dark petits with almond creme filling, dusted w/ dark cocoa powder
-Kit Kat Gold — Japan — petits with fudge like covering and dusted cocoa powder on outside
Kit Kat Matcha (Green tea) — Japan limited edition
-Kit Kat Kir — Japan limited edition — dark petits with kir crème filling
-Kit Kat White with Maple Syrup— Japan limited edition

-Kit Kat Blueberry Cheesecake — Japan
-Kit Kat Strawberry Cheesecake — Japan
-Kit Kat Chocolatier Wine — Japan limited edition — petits with red wine colored white chocolate, wine flavored creme filling
-Kit Kat Cacao 72% — Japan — dark chocolate petits with 72% cocoa content

-Kit Kat Pumpkin — Japan limited edition
-Kit Kat Iced Tea — Japan
-Kit Kat Cherry — Japan
-Kit Kat Caramel and Salt — Japan
-Kit Kat Kinako (soybean flour) — Japan
-Kit Kat Caramel Macchiato McFlurry — Japan
-Kit Kat Caramel Purin (Pudding) — Japan
-Kit Kat Kiwifruit — Japan
-Kit Kat Cantaloupe — Japan

-Kit Kat Mango — Japan
-Kit Kat Watermelon and Salt – Japan
-Kit Kat Triple Berry – Japan
-Kit Kat Azuki (Red Bean) – Japan

Monday, August 11, 2008

Sayonara Daddy

Our special week with Bob home has come and gone in a flash. We dropped him off at PSD early this afternoon to catch the shuttle bus back to Narita Airport. He'll head to South Korea for a Naval exercise, then will fly to San Diego. From San Diego he'll take a plane to get back onto the ship. We stuck around on the benches where the bus was and waved goodbye as it pulled away. Driving back home felt strangly's probably harsh to say, but it actually felt normal coming home and not having him here. Since we moved into our house in April he's only been here three weeks. Two weeks in a row in May, and now this past week.

I told the girls we're allowed to be sad today, but tomorrow is a new day and we're going to go out tomorrow and have some fun. Not sure what we're going to do yet, maybe the pool, but I want to teach them that it's okay to miss their dad, but we also need to not feel sorry for ourselves at the same time.

Once we got home and settled we changed into our PJs and have been watching cartoons and the Olympics on Armed Forces Network (AFN). We'll have leftovers for dinner and will probably make it an early night. The girls have told me multiple times that they miss him and want him back home...I think Keanna mentioned it at least four times on the 20 minute car ride home from the main base. She even said, "Mom I miss dad, and I can't see him so I want a picture of him when I go to bed." They have a picture of him on their nightstand that they kiss before bed every night, but tonight they each asked for a picture of him to sleep with. How adorable is that?!

I told them we could make a video for dad and that he'd get to see it on his computer. It's too large to email to him, so I'll put it here. I don't know what's going on with my shirt, but I promise I'm not pregnant. I've actually lost 19 lbs since we arrived here the last week of March!

To watch the 46 second video hit play and it should work. The bar spanning across will become red as it downloads, but you'll have to hit play before it starts to download. It may take a minute or two to download in its entirety. If you're a subscriber and get this in your email I'm not sure if the video will show up. If not, you'll need to come to the website to view it.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

As Rachel Ray Would Say, "Yumm-o!"

Lots of yummy things to write about. Bob's been home this past week, and we haven't done much at all. It's be nice and relaxing, that's for sure. He worked all week, and by the time he got home we would eat dinner, give the kids a bath and throw them in bed. We have gotten into our own routine since Bob's been gone since May, and even though it was tough sticking to it with him here, I tried my best. We ate around 5:30-6 pm and the girls were in bed by 7:30. We went for walks, ate dinner out two nights and played outside a lot, but otherwise we've been taking it easy. One of our nights out we went to Costco, and since the last time Bob was with us I brought my camera, I fought the urge this time. We did buy a nice tray of sushi, sesame mackerel and a bake-it-yourself pizza though. All three gave us a meal or two each, and all were delicious! Bob grilled the fish and topped them with lemon. The girls even indulged in the fish since they were so happy Bob was here to make it. Keanna even added, "Daddy, you're a good cooker."

I found strawberry Kit Kats on the way home from the base the other day. We met up with Bob over this lunch break to register our IDs at the gate, and on the way home we stopped at Family Mart (like a 7-11) to get an ice cream. Every time we are in a convenient store I check for a new flavor, and glad I did! I also found a kind that showed no hint of the flavor on the box. I grabbed a few though and tried one when we got home. Such a disappointment since it was regular flavor, but my guess is it's special packaging for the Olympics. The girls each got a pre-packaged ice cream cone and I got a pineapple ice cream sandwich. It had vanilla ice cream in it with a pineapple filling, then was wrapped in what looked like a hallow Belgian waffle.

Bob's been playing with the girls this afternoon and is getting ready to get his suitcases packed since he leaves tomorrow (our Monday).

Bon Odori (Dance) by Jinmuji

There was a bon odori (bon dance or 盆踊り) festival last night right near our house. It was actually across the street from Jinmuji station, about a 5-10 minute walk from the gate into our housing area. I say "5 or 10" because it depends on whether or not Sydney's walking or in the stroller. It was very small and intimate, but that allowed it to be personable and more relaxed. Bob came with us but didn't get in any pictures, shocking! And I was behind the camera, of course, so I didn't get in any either. We got there around 6:45 and left about 8:30. The girls were playing with other kids, both American and Japanese, but they warmed up and were brave enough to start dancing. Keanna got out there and joined the crowd and Sydney followed her, but after a few minutes Sydney came back to sit on the steps with me.

Taiko drummer was so sweet. He invited all the kids up to the stage to take turns, but they all had to take their shoes off first! Thank goodness for slip-ons, right?! He spoke a little bit of English and would tell the kids, "Okay, now change." He had a good system going and kids got their fair turn. I couldn't get a clear shot of Keanna playing, but I did of Sydney and she was really enjoying it. Keanna only played for a minute then stepped back and danced while other kids took their turn.

You'll see Keanna and a man in a gray t-shirt in some of the pictures. She made friends with him, and he stayed close to her for one of the dances and helped her throughout. They both got a kick of each other and it was really sweet. Afterward she thanked him saying "Arigato" and I bowed and said it. He bowed back and we were in a little bowing match! He chuckled so I stopped bowing. We had a great time and are so glad we went. Keanna even woke up this morning and said, "Mom, I want to go back to the place with the drum and dance in the circle tomorrow. Sydney wants to play her drum instrument with the sticks while I dance."

I took more pictures and have uploaded them into my Shutterfly album if you want to see the rest. There are some random pictures at the beginning, but 95% of them are from bon odori last night.

The people here are so kind, warm and appreciative when we try to join in their cultural events, or even greet or thank them in Japanese. It's a great feeling, and I can only hope Keanna and Sydney have some concept of the incredible opportunity we have living here.