Friday, July 27, 2012

USS Blue Ridge, Change of Command

Eric and I had a real privilege tonight - we were invited to a Change of Command Ceremony aboard the USS Blue Ridge.  The Blue Ridge is the 7th Fleet Command Ship (Flag Ship).  The Blue Ridge is unique in its duty as it hosts the Fleet Admiral all the time - not just during it's tour.  To put it succinctly, it is a pretty special ship.

The CO, Captain Grieco, just got reassigned to his new duty station as the CO aboard the CVN-71, USS Theodore Roosevelt.  They are a really fortunate crew!  The families are even more fortunate to have his wife, Donna, as a liaison and ally.

We came to know the Grieco's at the end of their duty rotation - about three years too late!  They are a fantastic family.  Their younger daughter, Mia, and Stefan have had their paths cross a number of times with school friends and events, taiko and baseball this last spring.  Mia is a top-notch kid - full of energy with an uncanny focus that Stefan can, presently, only dream about.  She is a total tom-boy and extremely likable.  From both the parents' perspective and the kids (ahem - Stefan...).

The Change of Command Ceremony is very formal and literally is where the Commanding Officer steps down from the position and accepts his/her new orders and the new Commanding Officer accepts his/her new orders as Commanding Officer of the ship.  Due to the nature of the Blue Ridge, this ceremony was graced by two admirals - one Rear Admiral (two-star) and one Vice Admiral (three-star).

I wish my pictures were better than they are - but 1) my "real" camera battery died and 2) it is WAY out of line to stand up and snap photos...  so all were taken on the "sly".  The pomp and ceremony was well-deserved and basically made me tear up.  The ship was bedecked in red, white & blue bunting and all of its flags were out.  It was very ship-shape and festive.

The Blue Ridge Band was great!

 Hat Check!!!

The carved fruit is always spectacular!

Congratulations Captain Grieco & Captain Penningiton!


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Cape Tomyozaki Lighthouse

Summer is officially kicking off.  Not because the kids have been let out of school or the sun is shining/warm and it has stopped raining.  No, I know summer is here because the mosquitoes are out to seek and destroy (mainly just myself, Dougie and Ian...).  The humidity rivals the temperature, both starting with and 8 or 9.  You need gills to breath.  You are as wet just being outside as you are when you step out of the shower.

How do you survive?!?

You go to the beach, of course!

There is a little beach nearby that has the first "all-night" lighthouse in Japan.  Cape Tomyozaki Lighthouse was built in 1648, destroyed in the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 and then rebuilt in 1988.  It is actually a wooden lighthouse that was fired by whale oil.  You can see how an earthquake could manage to "shake things up" and burn the house down...

What is more fascinating about the beach is that pottery chunks and sea glass wash ashore in abundance!  We have heard mixed opinions as to why, but I am sure currents have something to do with it.  Regardless, my mom would LOOOOOOOVE this beach and you should bring bags to collect all your beach "trash"!  Dougie did his beach-combing training with the best - Grammie!  He collected an entire bag of treasures while Stefan just put a few rocks in his pocket.

Stefan and his friend Pierce dug pits and built bridges.

Ian thought it was the pits... (ha ha)

We were joined by the Paluszeks and the boys (Alex, too!) were all entertained by a game of "attack the sea serpent" (aka: John Henry)...

Which turned into "how many kids can the air mattress hold"?...

Come on Stefan!



Noooooo...  She is too smart for that!

Back to "attack the sea serpent"

Two down!  John & Ian are in the drink...

Stefan, Pierce and Dougie are victorious - Alex offers to steer and apparently Matthew will be navigating!

It was great, Eileen and I got to stay up on the grass and look out over everyone.  Mikaela and John kept a watchful eye out for Ian.

He failed to do the same...

The family group next to us had a few young kids - Ian's age and younger.  They were playing a game of "hide and seek" - aka: CHASE ME, MUMMY!!! - around the lighthouse.  Ian joined them, doing laps around the little lighthouse and giggling like Tickle Me Elmo

It was a great day to spend at the beach.  Pierce, as always, was great company.  The day was made even better by the addition of the Paluszek's - it is not often the "younger group of kids" get to have their own teenagers to pick-on, play with and try to dunk!  They are great people, great neighbors and great friends!  We are looking forward to more beach days - not something I have traditionally said :)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Fruit & The Fruity's

Maborikaigan 2-chome is having their Bon-Odori this weekend.  I literally had to drag Eric out there.  Good thing I did.  We witnessed...

The Fruit...

Ian & Ioanna play on the rocking animals and check out the awesome band...

The kids were all given WAY too much ice-cream - the Japanese loooooove to give treats to kids!

The BEST taco (soft) I have had in Japan yet.  The truck was priceless!

"Welcome to Baby's Kitchen
Make Tacos for Baby's Milk
Hope Baby's Good Growing"

And The Fruity's!!!

It is hard not to dance to Surf Rock music - and these guys were really quite good!

Eric was pleased about going by the time he got home!  And, really, what is not to love about surf rock?!?

Folk Dancing With Mickey

This morning started with an early to rise Dougie (he did go to bed at 17:00...), a "just in time for hot banana pancakes" Ian and a sleeper.  Stefan finally stumbled in past 08:00 - really late (but welcomed!) by Anthony standards! He settled in for a morning snuggle - Ian joined in.

I had to go to Seika today for "Folk Dancing with Mickey"... So I took Ian and Dougie.

They each participated in their own way...

This was the "Folk Dance".  It was really calisthenics with Mickey (and Minnie!) and basic "new student orientation".

Clearly lost in translation!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, July 20, 2012

Happy Anniversary!!!

I had a sneaking suspicion that Eric may have had our anniversary slip his mind.  So, I took the pressure off and arranged for a babysitter and he and I went on a date tonight.

We walked down to Kaneyo: Art On the Beach.  It was my first time being there, although Eric had gone previously with the boys and Brad and Kent (A REAL Japanese Experience).  We have heard about it through many and it seemed like a great option for tonight.  

The food was DELISH!!!!!  They even have chips and homemade guac and salsa.  Heavenly!!!

The menu is all in Japanese, but Jon, the fellow who's family own/operates this slice of heaven, gives you a tour of the menu in English - waaaaaay better than reading it!

Their dog thought the food looked pretty tasty too :)

She never actually took anything - just looked at you as if she may drop dead at any moment from starvation...

When I asked Eric where he was 16 years ago, today, he didn't balk - but he also did not say "standing with my bride at the alter"!  First he gave me guff for picking such an odd number.  Then he calculated the year.  Then he looked at his watch.  Then he looked at it again.  And THEN he balked.


He bought me ice-cream.  My all time favorite:

Happy Anniversary, Eric!  It has been a great 16 years.  It only took you 15 to forget... ;)

Everything's Better With Butter

The boys have taken to reading Family Fun while riding in the car (have a stack I keep meaning to drop at a friend's house...).  Stefan proclaimed that he really liked it - "This magazine gives you great ideas of things to do!"

Of course, he is right.  Only, I never DID any of them...  Apparently, the gem was that my kids will do them without needing me!

The project du jour?  Whipping up some BUTTER.  We happened upon the NEX this afternoon as the heavens opened and dumped buckets of water.  What should be in the back of the coolers?  Whipping Cream - 75% off!!!  Bonus!  I bought four.  I should have bought eight!

We got home, I pointed out where some jars were stored and Stefan got to washing and prepping.  Eric and I had a date tonight, so Mikaela (babysitter) and Matthew (Mikaela's brother) joined in the better-butter-making.

We convinced Stefan that marbles inside glass jars were not a great idea - it would work out just fine without them...

Ian handed his to Mikaela an laid down...  took a rest (30 seconds - easily) and got back to shaking.  After he had traded his for Mikaela's, that is...

We now have fresh butter!  I think a batch of warm pancakes are on the menu for brekkies.  Maybe cornbread for dinner!

Notice the absence of a particular Anthony boy?  He was already in bed...  It was an early night for the budding artist.  His latest canvas was the headrest in the van...  Sweet Dreams, Picasso.  Tomorrow, we shall be calling you Cinderella...

Welcome Home, Daddy!

Eric got back Wednesday after being back in Washington for about 2-1/2 weeks.  Stefan wanted to make him something special (a CAKE!).  I suggested brownies and Stefan questioned, "Why?!?"  He thought brownies would be a good idea when I told him, "Because they are Daddy's favorite..."

So a batch of brownies were made.  

And, thanks to Melissa having cleaned out her pantry before heading back to the States, Spring Rolls were made as well (thank you, Melissa, for your incredible larder!).

The Spring Rolls were loved by all...

As is Daddy :)

Welcome Home, Daddy!!!