Thursday, July 24, 2014

Cat Thursday (29)

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! Enjoy! Hosted by Michelle of The True Book Addict.

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I thought I'd add a few of my cats to Cat Thursday. My friend Stacie and my family send me a few pictures from time to time of my kitties. I thought they would be nice to share this time around!

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Shadow is mine and Sugar is her new buddy ;)


Well, I can't find the photos for my other two cats so I'll just leave it with Shadow and find Wolfy and Frodo's for next week :)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Cat Thursday (28)

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! Enjoy! Hosted by Michelle of The True Book Addict.

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It's been awhile since I've done Cat Thursday...I've been trying to adjust to Japan life and I've been pretty distracted. Plus I really miss my cats so it's kind of bittersweet at times to look at cat photos and share. But here we go!

I recently learned of cat cafes in Japan. While I haven't found any near me in Hiroshima, I know there are a lot in Tokyo. So it's on the list when we make it up there. Here's a great video of two. They are adorable and it would be a great way to help alleviate my pain of not having cats with me. I hear there is one in Denver trying to get started. Enjoy!




Tuesday, July 8, 2014

These Are the Days....

I'm trying to post more often but I forgot how long it takes to actually get pictures and words onto here!

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Hiroshima Castle

I still need to take time to take some sunny day shots of our apartment. It doesn't get a ton of great natural light but I'll do my best when it gets sunnier. Hopefully this weekend and when the place is a bit cleaner ;) I really like it, though. It'll do for us over the next 2 years!

I am enjoying having so many things really close. Lots of shopping district, restaurants, and the grocery stores are all within walking distance or a short bike ride or hop on the train station, which is literally right outside our apartment door. We have McDonald's across the street too ;) A family pool is two train stops away and it's pretty nice. The Hiroshima Castle and Temple is within walking distance and if I ever decide I want to run, they even have a jogging trail! The YMCA is also very close and it offers lots of stuff for Gabe to do like swimming lessons, dance, sports, etc. I can even sign up for the gym if I desire.... And a really nice liquor store is literally next door! They have a children's museum close by which is free except for the planetarium. The library is right next door to that. And any street car or other train lines are all within another train ride away. Oh, I can't forget the Costco! Lifesaver! It doesn't have everything I'm used to but it still has plenty.

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Everyone is also so nice and helpful. Lots of restaurants have English menus and most of the menus come with bright colorful pictures so even if they don't have an English one I can just point and say please! No tipping is expected. I feel bad not doing it but it's how they roll here so I'm enjoying it.

Also everything is small and adorable. I found a little cocktail shaker that holds 4 oz maybe. It's just adorable.

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The hard stuff so far. Driving! It's on the left side. All the signs are in Kanji with a bit of English or hiragana/katakana. The roads are smaller. The signal and the windshield wipers on the opposite side. Plus there are people and bicyclists everywhere! We all share the road to some degree and it's quite scary. I fear I'll maim some poor elderly woman or some punk kid on a bike going to fast! Yikes.

Bicycling is also scary. I got one of their big bikes with a basket and a seat for Gabe on the back. They are big and heavy and durable. I've never been much of a biker in the States so trying to figure this out is pretty daunting. They are very very talented bicyclists here. Weaving in and out of traffic and pedestrians is what they do.

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Also everything is in kanji. It's frustrating to not be able to read things. My brain hurts after five minutes at the grocery store. It'll take time but it's daunting in the beginning.

I find I'm missing bread. They do have bread here but it's only white bread and it comes in blocks which they slice into 3, 4, 5, or six slices. And they are pretty big slices. I found one that had ten once but I haven't found it again. So we head to the store pretty often to pick up bread. They do have bakeries but they are usually filled with pastries which are good but something I shouldn't have everyday! So flour, sugar, etc are all high-priced commodities. Specialty bake shops carry the things I need but I haven't been to one yet. Also our "ovens" are really microwaves with ovens too. I miss my large oven. But I love their gas stoves and pans! I can't forget the rice cooker! So amazing. We will be bringing one home with us for sure :)

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Green Tea Cake! Yum!

So it's harder to figure out what to cook for the family. I usually to crock pots and breads and pasta and all that American stuff...here it's doable but a lot more expensive. I have no idea how to cook Japanese style and it looks like lots of prep. So we do what we can. But curry is everywhere and it's good and quick and easy so we've had that a few nights.

I really want to learn how to make okonomiyaki! I've written about it before but it's heavenly. It's fairly simple ingredients but looks like it'll take some practice before it'll come out all right!

Shabu shabu is also delcious! You boil your meats and veggies in special sauces right at your table. Gabe loves the meats so it's a good one to go to. Ramen is amazing here. Katsu. Curry. I still need to find a good sushi place. I want to eat out every night but we can't afford that but we do make it out at least once on the weekends and try new things.

Fun day with friends :) beautiful gardens here.
Shukkein Garden! Beautiful place.

There's more to write but I'll end here....I'm a little lonely missing my kitties and my friends and family and English...ha ha! It's culture shock. I'm in it but trying to deal with it and know it'll last for a bit longer and may even get worse before it gets better. I keep my chin up and know it'll get better as I meet more people and get new friends, figure out how to drive and bike my way around, and get a bit better at Japanese, which all takes time :)

Monday, June 16, 2014

Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Other Fun Times

The weekend came and went too fast, but we did manage to visit the Atomic Dome/Hiroshima Peace Memorial. I wanted to stay there a lot longer but when you have a 5-year-old with no attention span who's still adjusting to life on the other side of the world...well, you know.

The dome before the bomb circa 1930
2014-06-14 14.10.39.editIt's one of the few buildings still standing from the atomic bomb. It took a few years for Japan to decide they wanted to turn it into a memorial. So many wanted the reminder gone.

It's a jarring sight. One you can't soon forget. To stand there and contemplate that only a few decades ago the destructive force of the atomic bomb ripped this city apart and the people within. Horrifying but one that's stands as a reminder for peace.

I'll definitely find times to come here by myself to truly contemplate what this means.



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What the sign said about the dome.
We headed around the rest of the park and found other statues and memorials for peace.





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We then found the bell for peace. We each rang it. And Gabe did so very loudly!

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Then we found the Jizo statue that still has the atomic shadow created from the blast.

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Japan loves origami and they create some pretty amazing art out of it. All of these pictures are of tiny origami cranes made into beautiful works of art, all for peace.

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2014-06-14 13.13.42.editThis is just a taste of their amazing vending machines that you can find on every corner! You need water! Boom. Coffee? hot or cold? juice, soda...some even have beer.

Gabe got pretty bored and tired after an hour or so but he was a trooper and kept at it!








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The rest of the day we spent at the Aeon Mall. It has a really nice dollar store, Toys R Us, a big grocery store with other department store type things on other floors, and good food. We ventured on the trains. Archie knows a lot of Japanese and is getting better as time goes on. So he can ask for train tickets and order our food. I'm not there yet, but look forward to the day when I can.

Sunday was a relaxing day of bill paying and paper work and puzzles, TV watching, okonomiyaki! and just chilling.

We should be getting into our apartment on Friday. And hopefully our resident visas will come through within the next couple of weeks so we can get cell phones and other things.

The next big daring adventure will be to learn to drive on the left side of the road. Archie tried it from work with his boss who's been driving here for awhile and with Gabe and me from his boss's house to our hotel. It was pretty nerve-racking!

We are all looking forward to our own space and routine again! We've been going a bit crazy living out of suitcases and in hotels.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Cat Thursday (27)

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! Enjoy! Hosted by Michelle of The True Book Addict.

Image Source

It's been too long since I've posted. It's been a crazy, sad, and exciting time for me. My kitties have been handed over for 2 years to loving family and friends. So Cat Thursdays are a little sad now. I miss them so much. Without further adieu here are some cat pics I've seen over the last week :)



 The world's oldest living cat died this week :(

Poppy was 24 years old or about 114 in human years.
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And for my last one....happy birthday to me :) I'm spending it cooped up in a hotel room in Hiroshima. But am looking forward to celebrating it soon officially when we get into our apartment and settled next week or the week after! Then partay in Japan!





Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Under the Never Sky series by Veronica Rossi

Goodreads.com
This is definitely one of the better young adult series I've read in a long time. There is a plethora of young adult dystopia right now and a story can get lost amongst the competition. But this one deserves its status.

I read all three in the trilogy: Under the Never Sky, Through the Ever Night, and Into the Still Blue. It is young adult but I still felt like the characters were in their world and not too teen-like nor too adult-like.

Earth has been ravished by electromagnetic fields. 300 years ago the rest of civilization dispersed into the world or into 'pods', aka with technology. The magnetic fields caused enhanced mutations for the outsiders while the dwellers became addicted to technology.

Aria is a dweller who comes into contact with Perry, and outsider when they meet during a fire in her pod.

The two set out together to find the people they love, her mom and his nephew.

It's a nice love story. They really hate each other for along time and we see their relationship blossom and grow over time. There are no love-triangles, thank goodness. I hate those. Just some jealousies and misunderstandings.

All three novels focus on their relationship and the relationships they form with those around them. The ultimate goal is to make it to paradise or "The Still Blue", a spot where the magnetic fields have created a bubble with blue skies and drinkable water.

It's a great story on love, loyalty, friendship, and loss. I would recommend it for anyone.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Bon Voyage, Utah and Home-finding Trip

I'm pretty sure we're leaving this Saturday, June 7th but we still don't have visas in-hand yet so you never know....but our tickets have been bought!

May 12-15th I headed down to Vegas with two of my besties and we hit the town hard...well, not too hard. I'm getting old ;)

This pic encapsulates our awesome adventure. This one was taken at Coyote Ugly where Brittney got up onstage and danced her patootie off!

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After all that fun it was time for Archie and me to head off to Japan for our home-finding trip. It was fast and furious and stressful and fun.

Hiroshima is really an amazing city and I only saw a little bit of it. Jet lag was pretty tough. I woke up at 4 am almost every morning. So it made for some long days. 

Japan is 15 hours ahead of Utah so that made for some interestingly timed phone conversations with my mom, who was watching Gabe for that week! The flight was really long and it never was night. We kept up with the sun the whole time. That was so fascinating. The International Dateline is in the Pacific Ocean and it heads east. So Japan is a lot further ahead than say England even though the flight time is comparable! Just crazy. And we lost a day. So we left Sunday in Utah and arrived Monday night in Japan.

Tuesday was our home-finding trip with Paul, a Japanese-Canadian! He was fantastic work with. He told us everything he could think of on Japanese culture and getting around Hiroshima! We ate Japanese ramen and it was the most delicious ramen ever. I should have taken a pic but I was too jet-lagged to think straight and I know I'll have more opportunities in the future. It also rained all day, so Paul even bought us each an umbrella so we could stay dry.

Wednesday was a trip to Gabe's school to meet the principal and take a tour of the school. We're excited! I think Gabe will really enjoy it. Then it was off to pick our apartment after we had narrowed our search to 2 apartments. We chose the one with two stories. It was the biggest apartment Paul had shown and it's close to Archie's boss and his family that are also from Utah working for Micron out in Japan like us. The subway is two seconds away as well. So it just worked out nicely for us.

Here are a few photos of our new place! We have some lighter furniture to help brighten the darker floors and cabinets. It should be nice. A little cozy but comfy.

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Here are a couple of photos of Gabe's school.

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The wheel has a bunch of different areas where the kids talk about how they fit in or didn't fit in each day or week. Some are risk-taker, caring, reflective. The older kids help out the younger ones with planting and gardening!

This post is getting a bit long so I'll add another post on the rest of our home-finding trip soon.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Fast and Furious!

My posting has been pretty sporadic this last month and it will continue to be so until we all get settled in Japan. But I will try to post what I can with some updates and hopefully some bookish things too.

I'm heading to Vegas this next weekend with my friends for one last hurrah! I'm so excited. My devoted H is taking the week off and getting stuff moved and watching Gabe. He is so sweet to let me have this last little vacay with my friends.

Then the week after that it's off to Japan for a week to find a home. The agency working with us has picked out various apartments within our family range and most look pretty neat. They are small--so we will be heading back to apartment status for two years but they look nice and we're all excited.

As for my kitties. My oldest, grumpiest, and most needy cat Frodo will either be staying with my mom or my friend for the first 6 months and then my mother-in-law will take him the rest of the time once she moves back to Oregon. So I'm feeling a lot better about that. I'll miss my cats to so much. My friends and my cats, those are the hardest things about this move. But I'm trying to be positive and am looking forward to our new adventure!

We even sold our Toyota Camry this week for a good price and am now driving around in a rental VW Jetta :) We're signing our rental agency this next week to get our place rented out and taken care of while we're gone. There is still a ton of packing to do but we are getting it done slowly but surely.

I've been putting together a little airplane kit for Gabe. My friend sent me an article from Parenting.com on 50 Ways to Entertain a Kid on an Airplane. A lot of the suggestions are for toddlers, but there were plenty of ideas that still fit Gabe's age.


And when I get anything in Japan, the top of the list will be this adorable Totoro bed ;) And if you don't know what I'm talking about you need to watch My Neighbor Totoro pronto :)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Easter!

I know it's a little late but better late than never!

Due to our chaos of moving to Japan next month...Easter wasn't quite as festive as I usually like to make it. So I didn't get my Spring flowers planted or my fun decorations up.

But we did manage to color eggs, homemade even! We delivered the basket with time to spare.

Our beautiful Easter eggs!
Vinegar, food coloring and water! ta da!


The Great Bunny came! ;)
Gabe got a special box from his Aunt Jean with pirate eggs galore!


Every year I make crepes for Easter. I invited my family over for crepes on Saturday and then made them again Easter morning at our friends' house. Shortly after we hid the kids (or the dads did) and let the kids go on an Easter egg hunt.

I would have to say despite not getting it all done the way I would have liked, it turned out to be the best Easter yet!

And as for my kitties...I have found foster homes for 2 of my kitties but am still searching for my old and grumpy kitty Frodo...le sigh. One of the many stresses involved. But we're hopeful :)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Cat Thursday (26)

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! Enjoy! Hosted by Michelle of The True Book Addict.

Image Source

I wanted to post some pics of celebrities and kitties this week. It's been awhile since I've posted Cat Thursday and that makes me sad. I won't be able to take my 3 cats to Japan when I leave in June and that also makes me terribly depressed :( So here's some pics that make me feel better!

Russell Brand

Steve Martin
Morgan Freeman
Vivian Leigh

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Nick and Tesla's Robot Army Rampage: A Mystery With Hoverbots, Bristle Bots, and Other Robots You Can Build Yourself by Bob Pflugfelder

Another great addition to the Nick and Tesla series! This time their new friend's dad's store is broken into and a very valuable comic book is stolen. It's up to Nick and Tesla to find out who or what is stealing things in this town.

They build lots of mini robots along the way to help them spy and conduct their investigations! And they still show you how to build all the neat stuff that Nick and Tesla make.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Monday, April 14, 2014

And We're Off to Japan!!!!

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My husband has accepted a position in Japan to help start up their new plant and get it going. It's only for 2 years, but it'll be an unbelievably incredible adventure for me and my family! We leave in June and we have a lot of packing, organizing, passports, house selling, etc to get done. It's pretty overwhelming but I am so excited for this amazing experience!!!!

Gabe keeps asking each day whether or not today is the day we are leaving. "Is it today, Mom?" It's also bitter sweet. I leave behind family and friends. Gabe saw that I was sad and he said: "It's OK, Mom. We'll make lots of new friends in Japan." He's so wise!

We also need to figure out what to with our sweet kitties. Do we take them with us (I want to but I hear they would be placed into quarantine for 6 months before we could bring them home with us) or do we find friends and family to care for them. It's a tough call since I can't find anyone yet for my oldest cat, who is uber grumpy. So that's one of the saddest points for me. My kittehs!

My time is now even shorter. I will try to post as I can and I hope I can still access everything I need to once we're in Japan so I can still blog to my heart's content and share all the beautiful, awesome, scary, and wonderful finds in Japan!

Needlesstosay, in my week of knowing we are headed to Japan, I have been searching online for everything Japanese. How do I learn this language? Cuz I really, really wanna! My hubby Archie speaks it pretty well. He lived there back in his early 20s for a couple of years. I know some Spanish but haven't taken a lot of Japanese other than a semester in college. So I'm pretty psyched to try and dig in and learn. But the key point to learning it will be speaking it and not worrying about making mistakes. I discovered Benny the Polyglot! He's pure awesomeness. He has given me hope and invigorated my soul!

So many things to do so little time! Wahoo!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Reading Life (14)

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A Reading Life...hosted by Michelle at The True Book Addict, and also inspired by Lisa at Lit and Life--Life: It Goes On...is a meme where we get to talk about other stuff we're doing in our lives along with reading!


My postings have been more sporadic than I'd like. Life is pretty crazy right now and I've had to cut some of my blogging time out :( I'm hoping I can at least get 1 in a week if not more.

We headed down to Zion National Park this last weekend with friends. It was so fun and a much needed vacation for all of us.

Listening To:

I'm catching up on Freakonimics and still listening to The Universe Within by Neil Shubin.

Books Finished:

  1. Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients by Ben Goldacre.
  2. Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil by Paul Bloom.
  3. Blood Knot by Tracy Cooper-Posey.
Books I'm Reading:

  1. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (just a few chapters left!)
  2. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley (This is a huge one and I've slowed down....)
  3. A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan
  4. Prince of Hearts by Margaret Foxe
  5. Insanity Hoax: Exposing the Myth of the Mad Genius by Judith Schlesinger

Looking Forward To:

Warmer weather and my son not being sick anymore! We are going to get some flowers to plant this weekend! I'm hoping we are done with freezing temps til Fall. A girl can hope!

I'm also planning on making a brand new curry dish this weekend. It looks relatively simple and so I'm hoping it turns out well.

Watching:

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. So amazing still. Every Monday night it's what we do as a family! Also watched Blue is the Warmest Color, a French film that was nominated for many awards. I loved it. I could listen to French all day.

Grateful For:

The Earth and Nature. We hiked Zion's all weekend and it was awe-inspiring.

Fun Times:

Zion National Park is so beautiful. I haven't been there since I was a kid with my grandparents.

I'm looking forward to more camping and hiking goodness this spring and summer!

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