Sunday, June 08, 2014

Quick! Before they tear down the Castle!


We’ve got to make it to Hirosaki before they tear down the Castle. They will tear it down, move it, rebuild the foundation and move it back. Ten years is all it will take, but I am glad we made it before our trek back to America.


1930’s Travel Poster


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So grab your favorite drink, seeded or nonseeded, and relax with us in Hirosaki.

We went on a holiday called Children’s Day. IT. WAS. PACKED.


We went on a Tuesday because Brett had been working alot of weekends and kind of made up for it by taking off a regular day. With the holiday however, it was 10x as crazy as any other day. The
Japanese are serious about the few holidays they get. They are out and about and they LOVE nature.


Gracie is loving life, my little cherry blossom!

It was a beautiful, sunny day, actually hot for April. (The weather April-May has been pretty amazing- its been nice to spend so much time outdoors before we move and the tsugaru (rainy season) starts).


We promised Mina if she sat through millions of picture we would get her soup. Yes, soup. And we delivered.

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I’m never quite sure if I should take Marie’s glasses off, but it’s nice to see the face under the spectacles. She’s a sport either way though. The bridge behind us is bridge in the travel poster and the bridge I am standing on in the next picture.


Getting a picture on the bridge in front of the Castle was not going to happen. I had to run into this huge crowd and stick the camera up in the air to get this shot. Glad it turned out!


There are over 2600 Cherry Blossom Trees at the Hirosaki Castle. Its worth the 2 hour drive Gracie, trust me.

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This will have been our 4th time in Hirosaki, and every time is truly a good time. Fall, Winter, Spring we have loved it. They also had some hand woven baskets I had my eye on for a few years. I promised myself I would get one, but with the holiday- the prices went up from 5,000 yen ($50) to 20,000 yen! ($200)! Yikes, no basket for me. Maybe next time Hirosaki!


Good food, good times, and we were good and worn out.

Arigato Hirosaki!

Friday, May 30, 2014

baseball game breakdown

The girls humor their dad sometimes.  They were all super good sports and acted like they wanted to go down to Sendai with me for a baseball game.  It is about 4 hours away.  The Japanese baseball experience is quite a bit different than in America.  Every batter that comes up has his own chant that the crowd does.  And at the 7th inning stretch they sing some song and release balloons that have whistles on the end. 

Here is how our family looked when we last went to a game.  It was 2010 and about a month after we arrived in Japan.  Marie had just turned 2 about a month earlier.


I would like to thank myself for keeping our pictures in pretty little files so I could find this.  Hours of tedious labor finally paid off.

We didn’t get a good family picture this time, but here are a couple we did get.



They were great sports and seemed to have a great time.  Hope they aren’t disappointed when we go to an American game and things aren’t quite so lively.  They’ll be forced to watch the game…and then they’ll realize they hate it.  Although Mina did tell me her favorite part was seeing people run the bases.  I was quite proud of her. 

The next day we spent some time at Matsushima Bay.  this is a cool coastal area with a bunch of islands scattered around.  It has a long red bridge that you walk across to one of the islands.  We didn’t get a picture of it because we raced across.  Marie and Rachel BARELY beat Mina and me.  We pretty much just came away with this one photo that we are all proud of.


So…what did my great family get for being so patient and awesome to me the entire weekend?  As we were about an hour and half into our 4 hour drive home the minivan’s engine started sounding weird…then the acceleration stopped working.  We saw an exit and quickly decided we better take it and evaluate the situation.  As we were on the off ramp the car shut down.  We were fortunate enough to coast into a little parking area in the middle of the interchange – between the off and on ramps.  We feel really blessed in the area we were at when this happened.  With how quickly the whole breakdown happened it is very lucky we didn’t find ourselves stuck on the side of the highway. 

We have a little insurance card for roadside service and we gave it a call.  Although it is an international number their English skills, while way better than my Japanese skills, were very limited.  Their skills were limited to repeatedly asking me for my name and license plate number.  It took a long time for them to find somebody who they could get on the line to speak English with us.  The tow truck came and we gathered up everything we could carry and took a cab to the train station.  As difficult as it was to be in Japan with the language problems, it sure was nice to just be able to go to a near by train station and get home. 

Our van is dead – they called and told us the engine needs to be replaced.  Seeing as we have a month here and would have been lucky to get $1,800 out of the van, it was an easy decision to just have it junked.  It also feels good to not have to worry about selling it.

Here is what my poor family looked like at the train station.  You can see we have a pile of bags.  We realized we might not be coming back for the van so we carried everything we wanted to save. 

Did they deserve this after being so awesome to me all weekend?  Yes.  I mean, no.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

There’s a Tulip Festival?


Lets go to the tulip festival right after Marie’s soccer game. So far soccer is not #1 on our list. Having played soccer growing up I get it. I enjoy playing time to time with my friends, but I can’t say I’m addicted…


but it does make for a few cute photos.


Here is Mina- our sideline cheerleader…. hmmm maybe Aunt Cassie can give her lessons.


Ok, game over Mina! Lets get out of Town! Random festival- here we come!

Now I know you will be carefully examining each and every picture so I enlarged them and cropped them appropriately. Here’s to hoping your internet isn’t slow because here we go….



If you look closely in the back is a sort-of replica of the Golden Gate Bridge that connects us to the home of the tulips.


Yes, Gracie. We are serious. We are taking a bunch of pictures and loading every single good shot onto this blog post right here. Yah, I know.


Where are we?! Holland?


This mix of tulips was the favorite- who doesn’t love a moge-podge of color! And no, it’s not cold, the girls are doing their best “tulip pose.” Marie says, “I’m a skin colored tulip!”



Brett often claims that Grace is a fussy baby. Don’t. Even. Try. Look at this girl. She’s as chill as they come!


We all know who is the spice of the family- This little lass right here.


We got a DSLR camera for Christmas- a very popular camera. And very fun. I never thought taking pictures of tulips could be so addicting!IMG_1746

Me and my little flower girls.


We tried using the timer on the tri-pod here. Brett had to run around a small field to get to the other side of this pictures. It was sort of worth it…... ish.


I feel like I’m behind the camera all the time. I do exist. I am not trying to hide. Here’s proof.

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Here’s Mina making conversation with some dude. Lets just say she is really independent.


Another thing you might need to know. The above face is what Mina looks like when she is about to pee. All over. Seriously, if you see her look like this get her to the bathroom. Please.


This time we were dry. But watch out because big sister is THAT funny.


And my Gracie baby! What a happy little goose!


“Hey guys! I’m cute!” Yes. I want to eat you up!- says mom and everyone in the known universe.


We look one last look…     


And headed home.

Now my inner need for Europe has been slightly satiated. Thank you tulips!

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Marie’s Ballet Recital


18 months ago we started Marie in Ms. Chiyuki’s Ballet class. I can’t tell really describe what a happy day this was except for to say it feels like 18 months in the making. MARIE I AM SO PROUD OF YOU.IMG_1672

Every Monday afternoon I had to drag Marie to Ballet. Every Monday she said, “ugh! I hate Ballet!”- but when I would pick her up an hour later it was always, “Oh Mommy, it was wonderful! I danced like a little flower in the sky.” (all in that Marie-mouse voice I love so much).  So here we are, to the finale and rite of passage: The Ballet Recital.


Marie and one of her best buddies, Sorei- both naturals on stage. Seriously these girls are amazing.


The whole day went so well. Her teacher was incredible, a professional. Actually, in real life she is a ballerina (as in currently dancing). We love her style, strict but full of grace and she has taught Marie so much. The picture above is of the final scene of “Butterfly’s Dance.”


This picture was fun to take because when the girls ran out for their second dance Marie got in place for the wrong dance. It took her a second to realize where everyone else was, but it was cause for a good chuckle from the crowd. Who doesn’t like a 5-year old being cute?


Here is the final pose from the second dance entitled, “My Ballet Lesson.” She had to keep that leg very steady. .


Marie, I’m sorry if you hated ballet. But on this day, you loved it. You had a wonderful time in your butterfly costume (better picture to come) and you did your best dancing ever. I hope you can forgive me and only remember the fun parts.


Marie getting her certificate:IMG_1684

Daddy bringing her flowers:


Oh Miss Chiyuki! How we love you!



And now Dear Reader, here is the sad part. As of now I have not been able to load the original video of the recital. I usually do it through Youtube. However it automatically understood the song they dance to as copyrighted and removed my sound. So until I figure it out- and I will. Even if I have to email it to people, here is the muted version. Oh, and of course the camera automatically shut off for the first 30 seconds of the performances, so yah, that was a bummer- But I was there. It happened. And Mommy has never been happier!