Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Today Logan and I made Onigiri, or rice balls! I had them for the first time at one of Andrew's class parties, a mother had brought them in for a class treat. For this variety, you make the rice, add some seasoning and then place a small amount of rice mixture in a square piece of saran wrap. With you hands, then mold into a ball.

They are tasty and come in lots and lots of different flavorings and fillings. The one I chose to make was a sprinkling of sesame seeds, salt, sugar and sea weed.

YUM! Though, I may be the only one in this household to come to that conclusion!

Cherry Blossom Time

Spring has Sprung, in a rainy and windy sort of a way here on the "no American's to be seen anywhere other than the base" island.

Don't know what I am talking about? Scroll on down too the "sensitive subject" post and pour yourself a cup of hot chocolate while you read, I was long-winded. Just so you know, we are STILL on restriction (read: house arrest for those of us that live off base, we can't even leave our homes to go for a walk).

Oh yes, back to the blossoms; they are beautiful aren't they? I imagine that the island is covered with them now (wouldn't know, house arrest remember?) as Mt. Yaedake was a couple of weeks ago. They are lovely and I can see now why they have become a symbol of Asia. Though, I was suprised and amused to see the sheer number of tour buses and cars lined bumper to bumper all the way up the mountain full of extremely excited locals looking at the blossoms; beautiful yes, but is there a story or legend behind these flowers? If anyone knows, fill me in.

OH! This has absolutely nothing to do with Cherry Blossoms, but if you are hungry (Greens are hungry ALL the time!) then check out this link for Japanese Pizza! Sadly, I don't think it is here on THIS island, but Wow! Yum!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Shower Art and Bathtub Snorkeling!

One evening as I was getting ready to jump in the shower I found this little friend on the wall (sorry for those of you who are grossed out by hair). Apparently Dana had some extra time and decided to fine-tune those art skills. Thanks honey, you're the best! :)

The boys are getting VERY anxious for snorkel season to begin again (about 6 weeks!). They practice on a regualr basis. It is serious business and they don't want to be distracted for a minute, even to take a picture!

Saturday, February 23, 2008


The Medical/Dental spouses had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go out onto the flight line WITH our cameras and get IN AN F-15! We also were able to check out night vision goggles (they are heavy!) and see some of the training that a pilot and crew have to endure to be prepared for "anything." It was humbling. I came away with a greater respect for the behind the scenes servicemen and women as well as the pilots.

Remember when you have gone to an air show and it is so loud that you wish you had ear plugs? Well, our living room often seems to be right in the center of a daily air show ( we can see the pilots in the F-15s as they fly past our apartment). On days that the decibel level is just a bit much for me to keep my sanity, Dana kindly reminds me of a phrase one of his commanders told him, "Hear that? It's the sound of freedom!" As silly as it sounds that actually helps to pacify the anxiety...for the moment. :)

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Moments like this make it all worth it!

What do you get when 6 boys are let loose in a massive cave? Lots of happy kids!

Josh and Jake, they are the best of friends.

Logan, the animal lover.

Low tide at Miyagi Beach is a world of adventure for boys! Tide pools, sea cucumbers and urchins...oh my!

These cucumbers are an endless source of excitement, though mommy doesn't care for them. They are squishy and yucky and slimy
Caught it! Logan's next words were "can we keep it and put it in our bathtub?" Umm, no. :0)

Other "friends" sharing the tide pool- a sea star and a small sea urchin.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Some thoughts on a sensitive subject...

So, We Americans who are privileged enough to live in Okinawa feel just that…privileged; at least most of us do. Our families went through a lengthy screening process to get here and we are reminded regularly to “mind our manners” and to always remember that we are a guest of this land. Unfortunately there are always those that just can’t seem to play by the rules. Those that are “above the law” and those that are far to irresponsible to keep control of themselves. The foundation of this country’s culture is based on HONOR and RESPECT and PRIDE. Those few Americans who don’t play by the rules ruin it for all of the rest of us who are just happy to be here.

In 1995 a couple of marines raped a young girl here in Okinawa. This horrible act had serious repercussions on the American Forces here in Japan. This disgusting crime is very bad in our culture but incomprehensible for the Okinawans. In Okinawa, when a crime is committed against a person (especially a child) that crime is perceived to have been committed against the country. The Okinawans were outraged and rightly so. It has taken YEARS, until now really, for that crime to have dimmed at all in their memories. Well, you guessed it, it happened again just two weeks ago. A marine picked up a young 14 year old girl and ruined her life. This is bad, very very bad. Protests are happening, local and national governments are angry and we (the decent Americans living here) are nervous. What will happen now? You may have seen the story on CNN. What was a short story for the media is very serious here.

Two weeks have gone by since the crime, we hadn’t heard much as far as a punishment for the criminal or how it would affect all of us, until last night. Dana gets a phone call saying that we are now on base lock-down. Basically, that means that if you live on base, you are to stay on base. If you live off base, you now are confined to your house. No sight-seeing, no restaurants, no walks to the park. You can drive onto base for work, church and school but then you are to return directly to your home afterward. In my opinion, do we deserve this? Yes, we do. I think far too many “forget” that we are a guest. Let me give you a simple “for instance” that I see everyday.

There are signs EVERYWHERE about keeping your dog on a leash and to clean up after it. These signs are not for the locals; they of course would not do it any other way; the signs are for the Americans. But do the Americans follow it? Some do-many don’t (at least in my neighborhood). It is embarrassing and disgusting. The streets are littered with it. Why do so many disregard the simple act of cleaning up after and being responsible for their pet? Well, they are “above the law” of course. Eventually the Japanese government will have enough and not allow Americans living off base to have pets, and it will serve us right. It is their country, remember? This is just ONE SMALL example of not obeying a simple law. Don’t even get me started on drunk driving.

So back to what is happening to us now. One has committed a serious crime, so we all have to pay. I don’t know how many of us would like to string this guy up but undoubtedly it is many. I read an article in a local paper ( about the Japanese officials being very disappointed and feeling that America must be “slack” with their criminals. I am starting to agree. I truly hope that sometime soon, our governments can come to whatever agreements must be made in order to restore our “freedom” here to explore and enjoy this beautiful island and culture. It didn’t take long for Dana and I to be here and to see that this culture and these people are wonderful. They do things differently than the Americans and they do it beautifully. The American dream seems to now incorporate to much of “get all you can, as fast as you can and squash the little guy along the way.” This culture here has honor. Do we? Some do, I suppose but not very many. Let me share another quick story. One morning while driving Logan to pre-school, I saw a homeless woman pushing her cart down the street. A well dressed business man came out of a building just a head of her to, I assume, wait for a bus or taxi. As she walked by, he pulled some money out of his pocket to give to her. She refused and he bowed. She had honor and he respected her. I was shocked! Here was a woman that clearly had nothing, yet she refused a hand-out. I, of course, wouldn’t have faulted her for taking the money…who would? But, this culture is different. I have thought of that moment many times. This culture impresses me. I want my sons to learn from it. Japanese service providers in any working situation (waitress, workman, cashier etc) are happy to help you. They go above and beyond to make sure you as the customer are happy and do you want to know why? It is their job. It is not to get a generous tip, but rather just to do a great job. Wow, what a concept!

I realize that I have rambled on too long. I guess that is what happens when you are sick and have LOTS of time on your hands to think.

I truly hope that amends can be made and life can go on for all of us here in Okinawa. But if not, I hope that lessons are learned and whatever needs to change can do so, so that we Americans can once again be a welcome guest instead of an uninvited housemate.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Cottage

We rented a cottage up at Orra Wan for the weekend and I don't think the boys could have been more excited. A beach for a front yard and actual grass for a back yard. YAY! After living in an apartment, I don't think we will take for granted a yard again.

The highlight of the day was building sand "castles" right at the edge of the water and seeing how long they could last against the waves crashing in on them.

All of the boys (including dad) became quite innovative with placing their "castles" and then running before the water could get them.

Crazy action shot! This is high excitement for young boys!

Joshy liked to watch the action from the safety of his beach chair.

All in all it was lots of fun. We explored the beaches, found lots of shells and hung out in the cottage. The only downside was that I have been sick for a week and was fairly miserable with a cough. The only way I could venture out to the beach was to wrap a towel around my head and mouth so as not to breathe in the cool air. Yes, I looked quite the sight but we were the only ones on the beach so why not?. :) Once we came home on Monday I decided I had better go to the ER while Dana was home with the kids; 4 hours later, 3 breathing treatments, chest x-rays and lots of medication I was sent home with bronchitis/early pneumonia and strict instructions to stay in bed (the computer chair counts right?). All in all, not a bad weekend, minus the pneumonia!

Stay Tuned-*cough* *cough*

We had a wonderful vacation weekend at a cottage on a beach-stay tuned for an updated post! Due to my "condition" (don't get too excited, its not THAT kind of condition) I will either have to take a break from posting this week or it is going to be "post mania!" due to needing to keep myself occupied. :) Only time (and my lungs)will tell. Pictures to come!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Shuri Castle

Shuri Castle is about 30 minutes from our house. It is in the middle of Naha (the capital city) and up quite a large hill. The view of the surrounding area of the castle is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! I can't remember how many times it has been burned to the ground in time of war and then rebuilt again but it has been several.

We were fortunate enough to go to the castle on a day they were having a large celebration and had many cultural reenactments happening.

They had many performers, these being the sanshin group. The sanshin is a guitar/banjo looking instrument that sounds so distinctly "Japanese." I really love it. It has a very tranquil and calming sound to it.

This is a picture of the throne room.


I love these!

A quote from a sweet childrens book (Love you Forever) that will make any parent cry :
I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, As long as I'm living my baby you'll be.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Cape Hedo

Cape Hedo is located at the northern most tip of the island.

The waves beating the cliffs are so loud and thundering (or was that my heart racing as Dana and I were trying to keep three boys corralled and away from the not nearly safe enough fences?!).

The cliffs are gorgeous, dramatic and oh wait...what is that little speck of something across the bay and in the jungle? Is that a dirt road through the jungle? Lets drive it and find out!

Well, we found our way to the dirt road and hmmm, odd...a very well maintained path and fence in the middle of the jungle? Lets hike it!

Oh look! A gigantic bird! Wait? Why is their a gigantic bird (that you can climb into) out in the middle of the jungle? Good question. We have no idea. But, the kids loved climbing through it!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Okinawa World - some highlights!

One of my favorite sites at Okinawa World was the cultural dance they put on for us; it was incredible! When this creature came running full speed out of the curtain and straight at us I thought Josh and Logan were going to have a heart attack. They were both trying to climb inside my shirt, under my arms and behind me as fast as they could while being the protective mom that I am, was trying to get them behind me so that I could snap some great pictures! The boys were scared but mom was excited!

I finally was able to convince at least Logan that this was just a costume when the Shisa decided to start "eating" the audience...that didn't go over so well with my poor sheltered boys. It came right up to the woman infront of us and "ate" her and the boys could see that someone was inside the Shisa...*whew* crisis averted!

Nevertheless, I am afraid this is what they saw in their dreams that night...spooky, yes? Still cool? YES!

They also did a fantastic drumming dance called, hmm...let me Wikipedia this to make sure I get the spelling right...Eisa. It is lovely, energetic and colorful!

Andrew volunteered to be part of the program and learned how to use a simple instrument. The many Japanese tour groups at the performance were snapping pictures as fast as they could of the "cute little American boy" on stage. The boys are getting used to posing for random pictures when we are "out and about."

Sunday, February 10, 2008

*Warning* Python Picture!

Just so you know, I HATE SNAKES! I would never every try to convince my kids to sit happily with a snake wrapped around their body. It seems that my boys do not have this same fear. Though, in this picture Josh is looking less than excited. He actually quite liked the snake until it was picture time. Anyway, I of course had horrible "snake dreams" that night but my boys thought it was "so cool!"

Also, just so that both Grandma's blood pressure can return to normal these snakes had clear bands around their mouths so that they couldn't make anyone into lunch. These pictures were taken at a REALLY great attraction here called "Okinawa World." I have many more great pictures to share of this place. It will be on the list of things to do when we get visitors...though, don't worry, we don't have to do the snakes (my subconscious would thank you)!

What happened to my baby?!

Ok, who switched out my sweet smelling baby for this big boy?! He is still sweet but not so much in the "smelling" department. Much to my dismay and his enjoyment he is big enough to "get" to wear deodorant from time-to-time.

Do you know what this is? AWARD WINNING chili, that's what it is!

Ok, so it wasn't Iron Chef but it was our church's annual chili cook-off and I won! All I can say is that it is one great recipe because I didn't even have a chance to taste it before we ran out the door with crock-pot in hand. Would you like the recipe? Of course you would!! Who doesn't like chili? Now, if you want a chili that you can "stick a fork into" this is not it...but otherwise you gotta try this one.

Southwestern Chili
~Cathryn Jensen

1-2 lbs lean ground meat (I like ground turkey)
2 cans kidney beans-drained
2 cans black beans-undrained
1 can corn-drained
1 jar salsa (mild, medium or hot; whichever you prefer)
2 cups chicken broth (more if you like it more “soupy”)
Onion flakes (as much as you like)
1 1/2 tsp cumin
3 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp oregano

Brown meat until thoroughly cooked; put into crockpot. Add the rest of the ingredients and give a quick stir. Cook on “low” for 4-5 hours to let the flavors combine. Serve with sour-cream, grated cheddar cheese, tortilla chips or anything that you like with chili!

Fast, easy and healthy! My favorite kind of recipe!

Now, go forth and win your next chili cook-off competition!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Friday, February 8, 2008


It rains here A LOT! Why not enjoy it?
Word of advice: If it is grey skies but no rain...bring an umbrella. If it is gorgeous and nice with white fluffy clouds here and there...bring an umbrella. If it is totally clear with just a hint of a refreshing breeze...BRING AN UMBRELLA! See a trend?
The cutest dalamation puppy on the block!

Can you imagine how much this kid gets away with? Look at that face-it melts my heart.

What is a puddle good for if not for jumping in (again and again)?