21 November 2014

Shichigosan 2014

Reia turned 3 this year and in Japan, that is means for celebration! 


Shichigosan literally leans 7-5-3 which are considered lucky numbers. When girls turn 3 and 7, and boys turn 5 they will typically dress up in a kimono, go to a shrine, get blessed by a priest and have a nice meal afterwards. Others like to go to a photo studio and take kimono photos instead. That it was we opted for and the photos are sooo cuuuute!

I started mentally preparing Reia the day before by telling her that she was going to wear a kimono tomorrow and take photos. She perked up and got excited about it! I asked her what colour kimono she wanted to wear and she was set on yellow for her and pink for Aila. My though process was if she is comfortable in the clothes she is in, the better the photos will be! All day and the next morning she was asking when she would be able to wear her kimono. I was glad she was excited!

We got to Laquan Studio in Kichijoji and headed to the the room where all the dresses were. There were a lot of nice kimonos to choose from! She decided on a cute yellow one and a pink one for Aila like she had planned. When it was time for hair and makeup she was not happy! She cried and wailed for a good 5 minutes before the staff plugged in a portable DVD player to watch Anpanman. Worked a treat! Her hair was done so cute and very Japanese. She had powder and blush on her face but put her foot down at the lipstick lol. She absolutely refused to wear it. Aila didn't put up that much of a fuss and looked cute in her pink kimono. However, during the actual shoot she would not keep still! That is why there aren't many of the two of them together because Aila would just run away haha. Jun and I also got dressed into our traditional wear. He had a dark grey and silver one and I chose an off white/pale yellow to tie in with everyone elses.

Reia did so much better than our last photo shoot! She was so much more comfortable in her kimono and did well. Aila was more of a handful this time around. As for my hair, I had no idea how to do "kimono hair" so I just rolled it up in a french twist (yeah PCC! lol), clipped it and added a flower and I was done. Felt a lot better than paying 4000 yen! Although, some of the hair styles were so cool looking! I loved Reia's hair and studied how it was done before I took it out so I could replicate it hahaha.

When it was time to get into her next outfit, she put up a bit of a fuss. She loved her yellow kimono so much! It had matching shoes and a bag to go with and I loved the accessory in her hair because it dangled. It was either that or a bow, but the dangly clip was so much better. Anyway, I managed to get her into her next dress by talking about what she wanted to eat for dinner lol. Her and Aila woke up right before the shoot and you aren't allowed to eat in the studio so I had to sneak them food in the bathroom! It was a very clean bathroom. They were so hungry which doesn't make for good photos. She said she wanted to eat chips, orange juice and apple juice for dinner. Interesting to know what was at the top of her list. We managed to get her dressed as she was preoccupied with thoughts of food lol. She looked like a princess! She had on a sparkly tiara, necklace and earrings which just made everything even more glamorous! I had to stop myself from admiring her so much!

We went into such a cute room with different backdrops. I loved the bird cage and the purple flower wall. She was kind of cranky and hungry by this time and just wanted to get her chips and juice! We managed to get some good shots but I can't help but think that if they had full tummies, there could have been so many more!! 

Jun and I were talking afterwards and he thinks the she could be a kimono model hahaha. I also think she could model but business wise, she doesn't cooperate too well and gets distracted a lot. Maybe all 3 year old are like that, but definitely when she is older and more aware about what is happening, I can see her modeling some things. If only she would stop avoiding the camera! She looks everywhere else except for the camera lens. The camera lady did a good job using toys and things to get her to look. But all in all she was so much better. Hopefully as she gets older she learns to like taking photos.

The next time we take photos like these it will be when Aila turns 3!













25 August 2014

Valley Girl Memoirs

Today I thought I would post something that I wrote for fun. Laura is at BYU right now and she is taking a writing class. To support/participate in her homework assignments, Mum and I sometimes join in. I also just wanted to document the horrors of my working experience at Valley Girl because the struggle was real!! lol I have so many stories that I need to jot down somewhere! This is one of them.


Prompt: Write a memoir about a job you have held. Show (and tell) why this job did not lead to a lifelong career.


My feet ached. I slowly shuffled my way over to where a mound of boxes sat slumped on the dusty floor. The dust swirled up and around my ankles as I moved. The boxes were labeled in thick, black pen, "Dresses/Skirts" and "Accessories." I paused. Surely this couldn't be right? I had unpacked 10 boxes yesterday all by myself! Where did all this new merchandise come from?! I sighed inwardly and took out a slim orange craft knife from my back pocket. The work was mindless work. My body was on auto-pilot, pulling out dress after dress and hanging it on the rack behind me. People washed in and out of the store doors in waves, flooding the boutique with curious customers. I avoided inquiring eyes and kept my own down, focused on the box in front of me. I tried to lose myself in the music blasting from overhead speakers. 
"Excuse me?" Please don't be talking to me. "Hello?" The voice was louder now and sounded annoyed. I breathed in, rolled my head up and tried acting surprised. 
"Hiya!" I kicked myself mentally for having let that word slip. I would never say 'hiya' in a normal setting. I actually hated the word. But in the retail world, it was the basic greeting. "How can I help?" I said with a tired but friendly grin. The girl seemed unsure at my tone, but continued. 
"Um, the dress on the mannequin at the front. Where can I find that?" I peeped at the mannequin and sighed inwardly again for what seemed like the 100th time that day. 
"The black one? I think that might actually be the last one..." I trailed off purposefully in the hope that she wouldn't hear me and would lose interest. I squinted slightly in anticipation.
"Oh. Do you think I could try it on?" There it was. I went to speak but she cut me off, my mouth ajar. "It's my size. I checked already." Of course you did.
"Sure. Let me just... get-that-for-you." I spat out the last few words and spun on my heel before she could analyze my tone any further. Cheeks puffed, I exhaled slowly until I reached the mannequin. I placed a hand on the doll's stiff shoulder for leverage as I unzipped the dress. It slid off effortlessly, revealing the smooth breasts of the headless figure. The dress stopped in a ruffled heap at the waist. My hands moved to the mannequin's hips and tried to shimmy the dress downwards. A few teenage boys walking by the store stopped and started watching me in my dilemma. I refused to acknowledge their presence and kept my eyes on the plastic torso in front of me. Mid-shimmy, one tapped on the glass. My eyes flicked up long enough to see the sexual gesture he was making. Ugh. I tugged at the dress a little harder now, desperate to escape from the situation. The dress gave and it slid down to the floor. Muffled laughter and cheers erupted at the sight of the naked doll. I rolled my eyes, scooped up the dress and raced back to the girl who was now standing with a hand on her hip.
"Thanks," she said flatly. She snatched the dress out of my hands and left before I had a chance to tell her it was on sale. Jerk! I closed my eyes in an attempt to control my heaving chest and the hot fumes billowing from my nose. My eyes opened and focused on the stack of boxes in front of me. My feet ached. I picked up a blue sequin dress and felt my body switch back to auto-pilot. My mind blocked out the sounds around me and sat quiet, waiting for the day to end.


And the passage ends there. The ending to this tale is that after this lady demanded to have the dress from the mannequin, which gave the impression that she was set on buying it, and after watching me struggle at the front of the store with immature boys gawking at me and the mannequin, she went into the dressing room. I forgot about her for about 10 minutes until I saw the same dress peeking out from the returns rack, almost purposely hidden. I whipped around and saw her sneaking out the back of the store and being quick about it too! I was so annoyed!!!! I used to think that working in retail would be a dream, but it turned out to be a custodial job. You are constantly cleaning up after rude people. 
Never again! 

18 August 2014

Reia is 3


She's THREE!

We had such an enjoyable weekend. Opa came over from NZ to visit and we went away to Hakone up in the mountains to enjoy the pools and onsen! Even though it was Summer, it was still a lot of fun. Aila and Reia stayed in the kiddie pool for hours and loved it! We eventually ventured out to other areas of the place to see the other types of pools. They had so many different kinds! There was a jacuzzi, soda spa, playground pools with slides and things, kiddie pools, fish spa where the fishes clean your feet, coffee, wine, sake, rose, green tea, charcoal, and fresh pools too. My favourites were the charcoal one because it was a nice temperature and just felt really relaxing and also the freezing cold one! I went in that one last and it was pretty cold but really refreshing! I only dunked in once and that was enough but I felt really refreshed afterwards! The Dr Fish spa was also really cool. So after a fun day, all day, at the pools, we went straight to the buffet at the hotel and ate a yummy selection of Japanese foods. After that we all got ready for bed. Opa needed his own privacy so he sectioned off a little space in the hallway lol. There was a whole section of tatami mat that he could have used, but her preferred the tiny cramped entrance way because it had 4 walls lol.


The next morning, was Reia's big day! She had been counting down the days. She had been feeling kind of bummed out because first it was Jun's birthday, then Aila's and she was waiting for it to be hers. We woke her up with "It's your birthday!!" She sat up straight with a grin that stretched from ear to ear  ^___^. We went down to breakfast first and had something to eat and then went back upstairs to open prezziez! Jun snuck down to the lobby to get a slice of cake he had ordered the night before. She got some books from Opa, some knickers and a cookbook from Oma, My Little Pony and a toy hair dresser set from Aunty Ric, and a book, a panda hat, and a Mickey Mouse from Aunty Laura and Diego! There was a "happy birthday!" message from Uncle Stef on Facebook lol. Jun and I got her a Minnie Mouse t-shirt, a Toy Story puzzle, the Despicable Me 2 DVD, and a bike (the kind with no pedals so she can learn how to balance first). She still hasn't touched it lol. After checking out of the hotel, we ventured down the mountain to check out the shops. We bought a few treats and then headed out to Odawara Castle. It was very hot that day and even hotter inside the castle. The view from the top was nice and the breeze, welcomed. We traveled home after that and stopped for yakiniku for dinner. We also got to see some really nice fireworks!! We had to pay 1200 yen or something just to get into the car park to view them! All in all it was a very eventful, fun-filled day :)


Reia has developed in different ways this year. Here are some things I have noted. I have written these in chronological order since she was 2 so some things are not relevant anymore:

She can remember a lot and I can tell she knows what is going on but she doesn't have the language yet to say all that she wants to.

She is SO helpful! I love having an extra set of hands that can grab me things when my hands are full. So useful! And the good thing is that she loves to help too. Sometimes she won't understand my instructions though, for instance with colours. I told her that there were chips in the green bowl and she was looking everywhere and even touched the green bowl but still hasn't learnt all her colours yet, so she didn't see the chips.

She sings a lot, especially one of her favourite movies, Frozen! There was a Frozen bug going around at the end of last year and she caught it and still loves to sing the songs at the top of her lungs. Her teddy bears have two sets of names. There is Doti Doti, Doti Doti (2), and Polar Bear. But when she is in Frozen mode, her bears become Princess Elsa, Princess Ana, and Let it Go! Love that she named her teddy after the song! That is her favourite song to sing. Her sheep toys also become Hans and Olaf. She is at that stage where she can play imaginary games with her toys, it's so cute to watch. Makes me remember when I was young and loved my stuffed animals. I treated them like they were my pets and if one fell off my bed in the middle of the night, I would climb down the ladder (top bunk) and fetch it so it wouldn't get cold. I wonder what happened to all of those toys :( Been watching a lot of Toy Story 3 lately, upon Reia's request, so now I feel a bit guilty when every toys get broken and I need to throw them out lol.

She can be very persuasive. If she wants something and I say no, she will pull out her best lines. Oh come on! Yes you aaaaaaare! Pleeease! Mummy, how abooooout... a sausage!

She has started saying phrases like "What the heck!" Probably from me. She has said "Oh my God!" too. Not from me.

Sometimes she likes to hold my hand when she sleeps for comfort. 

She tries very hard to be understood. She will sometimes try to say a word or sentence that she might've heard before but it doesn't quite come out right. You can see her thinking about it and she will slow it down to perhaps to be heard better and other times she just gives up if she sees it's going nowhere. 

She has started using the toilet all by herself! She is already potty trained, but now if she feels the urge, she doesn't tell me and just goes by herself. One day all I heard her say was "Wee wee's!" and she ran off to the loo! I didn't know what was going on until I saw her sitting there doing her thing. She hasn't gotten the toilet paper thing down yet though. That is still my job lol.

She has got her food prayer downa and will sometimes add in "please bless Aila, please bless mama, please bless daddy" which is sweet :)

I see her trying to discipline Aila the way that I discipline her so sometimes I need to step in and explain that that is not her job. It's Mummy's job. Gotta be careful how I act now otherwise it will come back to me!

She is always interested in what I am doing and will constantly ask me (which can get annoying when on repeat -_-), "What doing, Mama? What doing?" She will always want to help me by either stirring the pot, folding the laundry, sweeping and vacuuming etc. I feel like she will be a big help to me in the future!

She hardly takes naps anymore. Only sometimes when she is extra tired and is bored. I treasure those days hahaha only so that I can have some ME time.

She loves everything about bums and will always point to it, or shake it around (sometimes in your face), and thinks farts are hilarious and will try to do it on purpose just for a laugh. And while we are at it, when we are shopping she will sing down the isles "I did a poo poo! I did a wee wee!" Luckily we are in Japan where Japanese is spoken and I don't have to hide my face lol.

Her molars have come through so now she has all her teeth!

She loves being chased and will always run away from people because she thinks it's a game.

If her clothing gets the slightest bit dirty or wet, she demands to get changed into something else! I try to tell her that it will dry or it's not that bad, but she hates wearing dirty clothes.

She LOVES dancing.

When deciding on something, she will often say, "How aboooout... hmmmmm" and will tap her chin simultaneously

Her Japanese Grandparents came to Tokyo to visit one time and her Obaachan was reading a book to her. All of a sudden, Reia's English pronunciation changed to Japanese English pronunciation! Pig became piggu and horse became hoshi (even though it should have been hosu) and head became heddo. Having studied Language Aquisition, I was pretty amazed about what was going on.

Her memory is good! She remembers things the next morning, like if I say that we are going to hula tomorrow, she will wake up the next day and say "We go hula dan?" (dance). She has also memorized two AIUEO Japanese books! It is her fav thing to read before bed. She can remember words pretty well! I wonder if she recognizes the words if she hears them in conversation...

She still says "There she is!" when she finds something. That was something she learned in NZ while playing beekaboo under the covers with her Aunty Ericca. Well it has stayed with her and she still says it! Although recently, I heard her say "Where is it?" instead of she which is a step up!

She has rhythm! Hallelujah! She will often clap along to songs or follow along to dances she sees on TV.

She loves watching Play Doh and Kinder Surprise videos on Youtube. She could watch them all day if she could.

She picks her nose and says "It's a big one!" when she strikes gold lol. We also call it the "green monster" so she will sometimes say "Ah! Green monster! I'ts a big one! Hahaha

She knows a lot more Japanese now. She says pinpon for right and bubu for wrong.

She doesnt quite know how to play nicely with Aila yet and will pull on her legs or roll all over her much to Aila's distress! I try to teach her to play nice but that hasn't sunk in yet. When I get frustrated and tell her off and once she senses that I am done, she will pull a face and try to make me laugh *sigh* What am I going to do with this girl lol. At those times I either grit my teeth and try to keep my tone and other times I just give up. This girl I tell ya!

She has started getting an attitude! Her favourite phrase recently has been "No way!" She has started talking back and putting her foot down! This has kind of happened quite quickly and I am still not too sure how to deal with it all. Right now if she does/says something naughty, I take her toys or something away. She will usually run to her room for a little cry and then return a little while later and say "I'm happy!" Needless to say, I have been enjoying my alone time in the toilet a lot lately. I even lock the door sometimes to keep her out! I am sure I am not the only one who finds solace in the bathroom lol

She loves bugs, pirates, dinosaurs, guns, swords, thomas the tank engine, handy manny, tools, digging,  and octonauts. On the other hand, she also likes barbies, play doh, princesses, mini mouse, and accessories!

She doesn't mind brushing her hair or getting her hair done, but doesn't keep it for long! She will always at some point take her hair ties out and her headbands off which means her long hair is always in her eyes.

She has overcome her fear of automatic hand dryers in public bathrooms.

Comfyuta = computer

She has gotten more defiant/independant

She is definitely a sponge. She will hear a song or something once or twice and will remember it forever! For example, I know she has seen part of the video clip for Wrecking Ball because once time, we were at a park that had a rope swing with a ball at the end and I got on to show Reia what to do. As soon as I started swinging she starts singing at the top of her lungs "I came in like a wreeeecking baaaaaall!"Lol I could not stop laughing!

She can sleep a lot! Sometimes she sleeps for 14 hours!

Her Japanese has gotten a lot better. She can definitely tell the difference between the two languages because she will ask for "My English" when a DVD is being played in Japanese. Or when her friends are speaking Japanese, she will speak it back to them. Her most commonly rotated words are kocchi, chiagu, dame, sou, soukka, ame futteru, iranai, onaka ippai, onaka suita, taberu. Her best friend is probably Shouta Aoki.

She is such a bubbly kid and loves dancing and singing. I often get told "it's my turn!" when she wants me to stop singing. So much for joining in on the fun!


Our big baby is a joy to our lives and we love watching her learn and grow <3

23 July 2014

Aila is ONE!!!


Woooooow! One year has flown by already! This time last year I was pushing her out into this world in the back seat of a car! She was a wee thing back then. She has definitely grown since then!

We had a nice Sunday and had cake and opened presents just before we left. We also skyped with family so they could get in on the celebrations. Aila got an Anpanman t-shirt, picked by Reia, a tv remote bilingual toy because she is always taking our tv remote and doing all sorts with the buttons. Hopefully this keeps her occupied! And she also got a cute wooden growth chart with places to stick photos and stuff. I have been looking out for one since Reia was small but could never find them until I saw this one! It's for one child, but we'll share. Aila also got a cute dress from Oma and she wore that to church. We all wore matching colours to suit her dress.


She got a couple presents from some members too! A puzzle and some toys. So thoughtful! Only 6 more months before she goes to nursery. I wonder if she'll get used to it as quickly as Reia did.

We had a Disaster Relief meeting with ward families that live close to us. The purpose was to learn about what to do in first few minutes of an earthquake. From what I can remember, cover your head in the first couple minutes, open the door so that your escape route isn't compromised, contact your group saying where you are and then turn off your phone to preserve battery life. We also all shared our story of what we were doing during the time of the Big Earthquake in 2011. 


Then we all ate taco rice together. Finally, the cake was brought out and everyone huddled around to take pictures! Now, just a word about the cake... This was the first cake I've ever made for one of my daughters birthdays so I was a bit nervous. I spent hours racking my brain and combing through the internet trying to come up with some ideas. I was originally going to make a banana cake with cream cheese frosting, but thought it might be too sweet for my Japanese friends. Finally I found an easy looking strawberry mousse cake that looked cool and didn't seem so hard. I went to shop to buy all the ingredients and oh my goodness, $5 for a small chip of strawberries? And I needed 4?? Uh... No thank you! I had to change my cake yet again. I remember seeing a picture if a mango mousse cake and opted for that instead. So glad I did! I ended up combining parts from 3 different recipes to make this cake. It wasn't hard at all, but took a lot of time because I was so meticulous about measurements etc. It also needed to set in the fridge for a while. But I was sooo happy with the result! Never used gelatin powder before but now I'm more confident! This cake nice and light and looks so awesome. I added a layer of mango through the cake for extra flare. I'm definitely adding this to my recipe book. 



We sung Aila Happy Birthday and Reia helped blow out the candle. It was a nice little evening with not too much stress. 


This month Aila has learnt a number of new things:

She has gotten better with food and eats more now. Still plays around with it first. Still spits it out just to touch it. Winners have been peeled mini tomatoes, mashed potato, and broccoli florets. I have a feeling she is allergic to dairy and she had a reaction to peanut butter, so add nuts to the list.

She is getting better at standing by herself now!

No real words yet. She mostly mimics sounds she hears. She does love to have "conversations" though. She will make a noise to get my attention, like an "ee" or "uh" and we will go back and forth saying that word lol. That is how we communicate! Our first lot of conversations lol.

She laughs the most when Reia jumps and runs around the room. It get's her so excited!

I have finally figured out that she has sensitive skin. She has always scratched her skin when. She was hot or tired, but now she is constantly itching an itchiness her chest that won't seem to go away. She cries at night because she is too hot so now she is in loose or cotton clothing and wears socks on her hands so she doesn't damage her skin!

She took a step!!! On July 6th! She stood up by herself and I saw her just in time to see her take her first step. I don't know if she was trying to catch her balance or if it was a real attempt to walk, but she took a step regardless hahaha. On the same day, she also found the dummy, took off the cap and started sucking on it and seemed to like it! So weird because I have been trying to get her to take it for ages and she only shows interest once she is nearly one. If she continues to like it, it might make weaning easier.

She can walk if I hold her hands to keep her balance. She knows how to put one foot in front of the other but hasn't figured out how to keep her balance completely yet.

She naps twice a day. Once in the afternoon and again around 5ish which makes it hard to put her to bed because she is so awake! She will sometimes wake up from a nap, crawl out from her room to the living room, find me, crawl over to me, and will fall asleep right next to me.

I like it when she says kola kola kola kola. It's so cute! I think she is trying to say "tickle" maybe. She likes it when I mimic her. She has also just started say Dah! after I say Inai Inai. She loves it when I get to that part!

She will squeal when anticipating being tickled! Her best tickle spot is in that sensitive part under your arms and in the soft spots under the collar bone. 

She will only fall asleep if I'm in the bedroom with her. I will try to leave once her eyes have been closed for a while, but as soon as I get up, she opens her eyes and cries lol 

Aila walked for the first time one the 16/7! She was cruising around a corner then just let go and took a few steps on her own! I tried recording attempts after that but it wasn't happening.

She can climb onto the coffee table without any stools or chairs! Aaaaah I really need to keep an eye on her. She doesn't listen or learn when I say no. A sign of things to come maybe?

We'll see :)

One year down and many more to come!

Love you baby girl <3





10 July 2014

Jun's 30th Birthday!

My hubby turned 30 yesterday!! Wooow, time is really flying by fast now. I can't believe we are at that stage, in the next decade of our lives (me almost)! He had to work which was stink but before we sent him off, we had a light breakfast and opened presents.

I knew that he probably wouldn't want to eat anything heavy so we kept it light and had fruit kebabs with a sweet cream cheese dip. We had his birthday cake out for candles sake, but ate mini muffins instead and kept the cake for dessert that night. 

I bought his present ( brand new razor!) 2 weeks before which took a load off looking for something. Reia got him some chocolates and Aila gave him a kiss lol All day, actually all week, I had been wracking my brain and was trying to think what I should cook for dinner and for the life of me I just couldn't get it together! I have also in the past done things that I think were cool, like balloons hanging from the ceiling etc. just to make it look festive. For some reason, when I have done these things, I have felt that Jun doesn't appreciate the gesture as much as I want him too lol. I mean, he says Oooh and stuff, but I don't know, I guess I am just not sure what he actually thinks. So this year I was kind of lost as to what to do. I decided to make roast beef which was a first for me. I tried to make it fancy but things weren't coming together which was frustrating! The beef, mashed potatoes, and gravy were very nice but the pumpkin and carrots turned out dry. I tried to keep it low key because I didn't know if going all out with decorations would be worth it all. I should have done it anyway. 

We ate dinner then busted out the strawberry cake and hokey pokey ice cream! The main event of course. We scoffed that down and then went out on the deck to light sparklers. And I didn't know that the cinders on the sparklers over here fall off and they blackened and melted small spots into the flooring of our deck!! Argh!! I noticed after 3 sparklers that they were burning holes into the floor but second guessed myself and we finished the rest of the pack. I was hoping I would be able to brush off the cinders but nope! Small black holes all over the deck! Waaaaaaah! It reminds me of when I was young and threw a whole bunch of pop-on-contact firework bombs onto the wall of our house which left brown marks lol. Pup was not happy! After that we got ready for bed and that was pretty much our day! Nothing too fancy. Can't do too much when all you have is 7-7:30am and after 8pm! But that is the life of working Japanese men!

Next year I will make it better for him for sure. I realized a couple days after his birthday was over, and after talking to my Mum about it, that I shouldn't try to celebrate how he is used to celebrating, I should just celebrate how I know how. Jun doesn't know how to celebrate himself so I should just make a fuss about him and make him feel special, even if he doesn't give the type of reaction I expect lol. That way we all feel good. Next time!!

20 June 2014

Aila is 11 Months


Only 1 more month and our baby will be ONE! To think that this time last year I was in New Zealand getting ready to pop! Time sure does fly when you're having fun :D

Some new developments for this month:

She can say her own name! ...Sorta lol she will mimic me when I say her name and it sounds really close. Reia didn't really mimic me at all at the same age which goes to show that all babies are different. She also says mama mama when she wants me or is hungry.
Saying her own name

Second and third teeth are through! I thought she would have most of her teeth by now but I guess I was wrong. Her other front tooth is almost through so she bites on her fingers.

She still isn't too interested in real food but loves rice crackers! She only eats about a heaped tablespoon of baby food a day. She eats more when it's finger food and she can get her hands dirty and make a mess. Speaking of mess, she spat food at me for the first time this month -_-

She has curly hair which is long at the front and short at the back. The hair at the back looks like it has been neatly trimmed but it's all natural. I am interested to see what her hair will look like grown out. Reia's is straight up top and curly at the ends but it doesn't look like Aila will have  that. It is looking more like soft loose curls, but we'll see.

She waves her arms when she is frustrated and claps when she is happy! I have been thinking about whether I should start her on baby signing or not as she is already pretty easy to read. Maybe when she has trouble communicating to me what she wants. I am trying to start teaching her what "No" means as she is always pulling books and things down and tearing the place apart. She just smiles and laughs at me so it's not going so well haha. But she can understand when I say "uh uhh!" (another form of no), and "peh" (spit it out). We will work more on "no" this month.

She loves going outside on the deck and will make a beeline for my pot plants when the slide door is open. My poor tomato plant is on her hit list.

If you don't see Aila in the living room, she is probably playing by the front door, eating a shoe. She loves crawling down there and nibbling on shoes no matter how many times I try to stop her! I think it's because it's cooler down there and also she likes strappy things and will go for mine or Reia's sandals.

She can wave bye bye! The first time she did it was in the parking lot after we came home from church which surprised me as I hadn't actively tried teaching her that.

Not new but she is LOUD. A loud crier, laugher, squealer, rambler etc.

She pinches me and loves trying to rip off the mole on my neck :(

She is always trying to play with Reia's toys which Reia does not approve of. However, Reia has learnt that all she needs to do is substitue her toy with something else to distract Aila. Works every time lol.

She can pull herself up on things quite easily now and also figured out how to sit back down! She also  can stand for a couple seconds at a time before tumbling over. We play a game where we count down from 3 and will let go of her so she is standing by herself and she loves it. She will let go of me by herself! The longest was about 7 seconds. The first time she stood by herself, I don't think she was aware that she wasn't holding on to anything until she started losing her balance and then she started flailing her arms around lol.

She has become a handful to put to bed. I have given up feeding her to put her to sleep because it just energizes her and she will be up for another 3 hours! What has worked though is tv. I will flatten out our Japanese couch to make a bed and she'll watch, and eventually fall asleep by herself. Either that or I just let her cry it out while I try to get some shuteye! Reia will usually tell me she is sleepy and ready for bed but will change her mind once she is in bed by herself. *sigh* Sometimes I would just like them to be in bed by 10 so I can have a shower and watch a movie or something! But that's motherhood for ya.

Wouldn't crack a smile, but lovin' her "jinbei" outift!
All in all, another adventure with Aila our almost 1 year old :)

13 June 2014

Peanut Butter Hummus


I have wanted to make hummus for a long time but have never had that strange ingredient tahini, which is sesame paste. I have never seen this before and wouldn't know where to start looking for it in Japan! The other day, I had another craving for some hummus but knew I couldn't make it without that darn tahini. Or could I?

Enter peanut butter! The common pantry item which substitutes amazingly for tahini. You seriously can't tell the difference. Chunky or smooth would work here. If your into a bit more texture, go for the crunchy peanut butter. If you want a smoother dip, go for creamy/smooth peanut butter. I used Skippy's Creamy Peanut Butter as that's what I had.

There are a whole bunch of recipes out there but really, you don't need cups and spoons. Just your taste buds. Actually, after reading through a couple, I found that some people don't even use tahini lol. Guess I have been waiting for nothing! But anyway...

I used two 380 tins of chick peas and eyeballed the rest.

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Peanut Butter Hummus

2 tins of chick peas, drained and rinsed
6 Tbs peanut butter
1-2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp ground cumin powder
2 Tbs olive oil
water to desired consistency
salt and pepper

Blend all together and enjoy with veges or flat bread.
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I used a blender for this. Wrong choice! It got all stuck down the bottom from lack of liquid. A hand mixer worked so much better and gave me more control over the consistency. Also, I found that it needed a lot more water than I expected. I kept on adding more until it became smooth. I ended up adding a lot more than 2 Tbs of olive oil too. It just depends on what you are after.

You could also add lemon or lime juice, herbs, spices, cheese,  pesto, avocado, chili, sun dried tomatoes, olives, or yogurt. Anything really! 

I love the idea of adding cheese or sun dried tomatoes. Might have to try that next!

12 June 2014

2 Egg White Pavlova


After being on a cookie making rampage the last couple of days, I was left with some unused egg whites. Usually I stick these in a small container in the fridge with the intent to use them later, but I never do and just end up throwing them away. Sound familiar? This time however, with a lot of persuasion from Reia, I decided to make a pavlova! 

A pavlova is a meringue dessert topped with fresh cream and fruit and is one of our national treasures as a dessert in New Zealand! Sorry Aussies, but it's true.

The first ever pav I made by myself was seriously a thing of beauty. It was crispy on the outside and marshmallowy on the inside, just like a pavlova should be. It was tall and round and didnt crack or crumble anywhere. When I finished putting the last pieces of fruit on it I thought to myself, "Well that wasn't so hard!" It must have been beginners luck because I have not for the life of me been able to pull it off again! The pavs that followed were always flat, hollow, or thin looking. Still tasted pretty good but they weren't that heavenly piled meringue that I wanted. 

With this pav that I made today, I only had 2 egg whites and knew it would be a small wee thing. I tried a new recipe that called for 4T of boiling water which was new to me. It was a no-fuss, one-bowl type recipe. It started off looking amazing in the oven, but as it cooled it sunk into a miniature little thing. I guess that was to be expected. It didn't have a crisp outer shell, but it did have a lot of soft marshmallowiness going on! It was actually quite delicious! I decided to blog about it to remind myself what I can do with left over egg whites so bear with me.

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2 Egg White Pavlova

2 egg whites
1 C sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp vinegar
4 Tbs boiling water

Pre-heat oven to 180°C and prepare tray with foil or baking paper.
Place all ingredients into a bowl and whisk for 15 minutes.
Spread mixture onto tray into a circle.
Bake for 10 minutes at 180°C and then 45 minutes at 150°C.
Cool in the oven completely and top with cream and fruit.

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Pretty easy recipe but it cuts some corners. Also, a lot of liquid oozed from the pav which might have been from over whipping. I didn't mind though because it gave it a caramelly self-saucing effect which was kinda cool. The result was a small, very soft and smooth pavlova. It tasted pretty good! I topped it with fresh cream and cherries. I didn't have time to think about presentation as my guests that morning were just about ready to leave when I remembered that I had it! Dolloped on the cream, chucked on the cherries and it was good to go. They thought it was delicious which was good enough for me. DH also gave it his tick of approval :)

This recipe is good for those odd left over egg whites that you want to get rid of but probably not something you would use for a gathering or pot luck. They say not to put your pav in the fridge, but this one was fine as it didn't have a crust. It actually improved the taste as it got to soak in a bit more of that oozy caramel goodness.

Next time I will attempt at making a Japanese roll cake that was highly recommended to me by my Japanese friend! She said you can't go wrong with it. It will be a first for me making a roll cake so hopefully she is right!

06 June 2014

Japanese Chocolate Chip Cookies


I know, I know, I made cookies yesterday...

My sweet tooth has been out of control lately! It's another rainy day today and with the girls asleep and my tummy rumbling, cookies were naturally the solution to all my problems.

Now these aren't any kind of cookie, these are my FAVOURITE cookies in the whole wide WORLD!!! They aren't too sweet and are soft, thick and chewy. The only problem is that they are only my favourite when my Japanese friend makes them. When I make them they are ...meh. Still yummy! But meh compared to hers. Nevertheless, I made these ones today in an attempt to finally replicate them! I was almost successful but fell short somewhere... The recipe is all in Japanese so maybe that's why. Even though they weren't as amazing as my friends, I decided I needed to blog about them so that I wouldn't have to always re-translate the recipe in my mind. And hopefully I will be able to make them just as well as my friend does one day ~(^◇^)/

I had to really use self control eating these. The recipe makes 9 and I eeeeeasily ate 6 until I realized my treasures were almost gone. I was at a dilemma. I only had 3 left! Do I save some for Reia and Jun? Or do I eat them all and clean up evidence that they ever existed? Hmmm... the latter sounded very appealing... but I could hear my thighs screaming "Nooooo!" so I sealed them in a ziplock bag and put them out of sight.

Now like I said, the recipe is in Japanese so I am going to attempt to translate it! This is a copycat recipe for Country Ma'am cookies which you can find just about anywhere in Japan. They are small soft cookies that come in a whole bunch of flavours with the most common being Vanilla and Cocoa. Other flavours I have seen are Strawberry, Apple Pie, and Almond Donut. Some of the weirder ones are Sesame Seed, Green Tea, and Corn Soup. Blehh!


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Country Ma'am Cookies


70g chocolate chips
50g butter (room temp)
30g brown sugar
30g white sugar
15g honey
1 egg yolk
110g flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
10 drops of vanilla essence
9 aluminum cup cake liners
Kitchen scale (lifesaver when it comes to Japanese recipes as everything is in grams)

1. Preheat oven to 170°C. Get out your aluminum liners and have them separated and ready on your baking tray. Sift flour and baking powder in a bowl.

2. Whip butter with a whisk in a large separate bowl until light and fluffy. Add in the white sugar, brown sugar and honey. Mix until the grittiness from the sugar disappears. 

3. Add the egg yolk and vanilla essence. Mix.

4. Change to a rubber spatula and add the sifted flour and baking powder. Mix by scraping the sides of the bowl, folding and pressing the two mixtures together as you go.

5. When it forms a dough, fold in the chocolate chips. 

6. Divide the mixture equally into 9 parts and put into liners. Each should weigh about 35g each (use your scale). 

7. Roll each cookie between your hands to make them round. Flatten the tops a little with a fork to make thick disk shapes.

8. Bake for 12 minutes.

9. They should still be soft and light brown when they come of the oven. When they are completely cool, you can take them out of their cup cake liners. If you are too hasty like me, they will fall apart and crumble in your hot little hands!

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And that, my friends, is how you make a good Japanese Chocolate Chip Cookie!

You're welcome!

*Update* Jun came home late that night so I ended up eating the remaining cookies lol FAIL 

05 June 2014

Apricot Chocolate Chip Cookies


I have been having a real craving for cookies for a long time now. But whenever that "pang" would strike, I would never have all the right ingredients. Sugar but no butter. Chocolate but no eggs. It's probably a good thing I didn't! Today, however, I had all the ingredients I needed to make cookies! I may or may not have been hoarding these ingredients, waiting for that special moment I could sink my teeth into a warm, homemade cookie...

My cookie of choice was one that would take me back to the taste of my home land, New Zealand. One that would appease my hunger for a Cookie Time cookie. One that I have been dying to try out for a long time now. It was none other than .........(drumroll please)......... the Apricot and Chocolate Chip Cookie! If you are anything like my Japanese friends, then you probably haven't heard of these before. I have had a craving for cookies with dried apricots in them ever since my friends and I started discussing dried fruits in Japan. There are so many here! They have dried kiwi fruit, mango, pineapple, even melon! When my friends came to visit me, they brought a plethora for me to try. I was not a big fan of the pineapple or mango but the kiwi fruit and melon were surprisingly good! I guess I should say that I was not a big fan of dried fruits to begin with. When my friends and I were discussing our favourites, I told them that if I had to choose, I would probably say dried apricots. They gave me a bewildered look that said Dried apri-whats? Needless to say, they had never had them before. Come on fellow kiwis! If you are from NZ, what is the first dried fruit that comes to mind apart from raisins, prunes and dates? Apricots, no? I would think with our Cookie Time Apricot Bumper Bars being pretty popular that dried apricots were quite common in cookies and things... but I digress. 

After my friends left my house, I started doing the laundry only to hear the doorbell go off. It was one of my friends who had returned to give me a packet of dried apricots that she had just found at the shop across the street! Finally, I had everything I needed! How did she know?? I opened the bag to have a taste and I can say that yes, whole dried apricots are definitely my fav.

Side note: I had to go back to the store to buy another pack because the first packet was mysteriously eaten by a certain someone who shall not be named. Lol.

This recipe comes from kiwifamilies.co.nz I have never heard of this site before, but after a quick peruse, it looks like it has a lot of good information and ideas for families! *Subscribes*


The recipe is as follows:

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Apricot and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Yields 16

100g butter, softened
¾ cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/1/2 cups plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ cup milk or dark choc bits
½ cup dried apricots, diced

1. Pre-heat oven to 180ºC. Cream butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla essence and beat well.

2. Sift in flour and baking powder and combine with a wooden spoon. Stir in the chocolate chips and apricots.

3. Place tablespoons onto a baking tray lined with baking paper and press down with a fork to flatten. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Leave to cool.

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Quite a simple recipe to follow and the results were soft scrumptious cookies. Great with a tall glass of milk! Next time (yes, next time!) I would like to make an oatmeal version. MmmmMmmmm! I would also suggest to make sure to chop up the apricots to the same size at the choco chips.

Enjoy!

29 May 2014

Lost at the Park

A few weeks ago on April 26th, I had the most harrowing experience.

I lost Reia.

What she was wearing on that day
One Saturday, I took the girls to a Hula event at a park about 45 minutes away from our house. Jun stayed at home. The hula event was fun and we ate yummy Hawaiian food and enjoyed the hula performances. Reia was fed up with following me around everywhere and wanted to do her own thing. So while we were supposed to be having lunch, she decided that she was going to play on the playground by herself. She started walking away and I followed her to keep an eye on her. She played on the playground and I watched from a distance and finished off my Smile Kebab. Aila was getting fussy and needed feeding so when a bench opened up, I took the opportunity, sat down and fed her for 5 minutes. The bench was to the side of the playground and during those 5 minutes, I lost visual of Reia.

In my gut I knew I needed to find where she was but didn't act and waited until Aila was done. I got up, anxious to find her and spent a few minutes scouring the playground. She wasn't there. I kept my cool and didn't start shouting out her name because to me that would mean that this was serious and she was really gone. I stayed optimistic and looked in other places in the park. It wasn't a big park, but was big enough and filled with enough people for a small person to get lost. I asked a friend who was there if he had seen her. He hadn't but said he would ask his wife, who was one of the coordinators, if she or anyone else had. I frantically circled around the park twice pushing Aila in the pram as I went. After 30 minutes of her being missing, fear started to sink in. My mind started racing. What if she had been taken? Japan is generally a safe area, but it only takes one person to do something stupid. What if that person had seen Reia was alone and targeted her? What if Reia wandered out of the park and crossed the street? I would never find her! Where is she?! Is she safe?! Please Heavenly Father, keep her safe!! Please!!! I had kept my cool for long enough and decided to call Jun.
"... I lost Reia"
As those words tumbled out of my mouth, I felt the hopelessness and fear engulf me. I broke down. Through sobs and gasps I listened as Jun told me that he was on his way and to ask for help. He said he would call the same friend to help me too. After we hung up, I had a sink or swim moment. What do I do now? Stay here and cry? No. Breaking down and giving up wasn't an option. If I give up, Reia could be gone forever. I couldn't bare the thought of that. My baby taken away from me. Not being able to see her grow up. Feeling sorry for all the times I reprimanded her. Desperately wanting to hold her again. I couldn't give up but had looked everywhere. What else could I do? All I knew was that I wasn't leaving that park without her.

I decided to go back to the playground one more time. This time I shouted her name out loud even though I knew she wasn't there. It felt hopeless. The park was full of noise. Kids screaming, people laughing, Hawaiian music playing, hula dancers chanting, food vendors shouting out menu items. What if she was there and just couldn't hear me? I blocked out all the noise and strained my ears for the sound of Reia's voice... but there was nothing.

Next I decided to check with my friend's wife if she or anyone had seen her. I had taken photos of her about 30 minutes before she went missing and was armed with them, ready to show them to anyone and everyone if necessary. I was almost to the booth, when I happened to look to my left under some trees. There in the shade on a ramp behind a boy, I saw a quarter of a forehead and I knew. It was her!! I didn't need to see anything else. I knew from her pigtail, hair and skin that that was my girl! My heart started beating again and I raced over and called her name in both relief and anger. She heard me but couldn't see me and started to cry. I could tell she had been looking for me. As I got closer, she saw me and ran to me. We both hugged and cried. She told me that her knee hurt and wanted a plaster. She must've fallen over somewhere. I asked her where she went and apparently, she saw the dolphin bouncy castle in the distance and walked off in that direction. Some time after that she made her way to the other side of the park in the opposite direction and played on the ramp. I taught her right there on the spot not to ever run away from me again and that if she ever does get lost, to call out "Mummy, where are you?" in a loud voice. I wasn't sure if she understood what I was saying to her, but the next day when we were grocery shopping, she lost sight of me. I could see her but she couldn't see me. She shouted out "Mummy! Where are you!?" A sense of relief washed over me. She understood! At least this way, she will be more confident in how to act during times like these.

I learnt a valuable lesson that day. Never ever ever take your kids for granted. One day they're there, and the next they could be gone. Never assume that your child won't run off or won't get lost. Teach them early what to do if they get in situations like that. Teach them how to seek help. Teach them how to say their name, your name, a phone number, anything to help reunite them with their families. I also learnt not to be afraid to look like that crazy lady screaming her head off for her lost children. It could be a matter of life and death, you never know!

The next time I go to a big event with lots of people, I will give her a tag or badge to wear with mine and Jun's information on it. Another idea is a temporary tattoo. I was so so so happy to take her home with me instead of going to the police station to report a missing child.

I hope I don't have to experience that ever again.

28 May 2014

To Build (or Break) a Child


I loved this little post by handsfreemama. She talks about how damaging our words can be to our kids even though we have the best intentions. It is a good reminder to me to let the small things slide and love my girls for who they are and not what they do.

I have found lately that Reia is always wanting my attention when I am playing with Aila. Sometimes it can get frustrating as she is bigger and stronger and can sometimes hurt Aila unintentionally. For example, she knows that Aila likes to play under the blankets so she puts blankets and things over her head, covering her eyes. Of course Aila can't see and is left in the dark and will usually topple over and hit her head. Meanwhile, Reia thinks it's funny. My reactions to times like these could be better.

Sometimes I am just over saying the same thing over and over again that eventually I raise my voice or give her that disapproving look. Her face when I do this is full of hurt and regret. You can tell she only wants to please me and can't wait to make up and hug. As Mums, I guess we just assume that our kids know that we love them unconditionally. But how we react sometimes may not always reflect that.

A good reminder to be better.

"I love you just the way you are, exactly as you are."

21 May 2014

Aila is 10 Months


Big things this month!

Her first tooth cut through! Her bottom left tooth (same as Reia). She was crying sooo much the night before and looked like she was in pain. I was exhausted and was at my breaking point. Luckily Jun came home and rescued both of us. But it was no wonder that she was so upset! She has been teething for months now but there was never a tooth. You could see it through her gums but it took so long to pop through! Even now it hasn't moved much since it first cut through. Her 2nd tooth is nearly out but hasn't cut yet.

She is slowly figuring out how to put herself to sleep! Finally I see some progress! One time I was lying on my stomach and she crawled on to my legs and fell asleep lol. To wake me up, however, she likes to slap my face and poke at my eyes for them to open haha. It definitely is more effective than an alarm clock!

She can crawl!! Her first time was when she went for a red plastic ball. She isn't that fast but when she want's to go super fast (which is still slow) she'll use one foot and one knee and scuttlte! Reia did that too :) Sometimes she stands on her hands and feet and props her bum into the air hehe. She has also started standing with the support of furniture and stuff! Our couch has no legs, so it is hard for her to prop herself upright on that. But give her a box or a table and she's good!

She likes being hand fed rather than spoon fed. I find I have more control that way as well. She has been really picky lately and I think it's because of a tummy bug. For a couple weeks now, she hasn't had a big appetite and has had diarrhea too. She seems to be fine but has all these symptoms that aren't going away :(  

She likes to play peekaboo behind the curtains. If I say, "Where's Aila?" she goes still with excitement and anticipates me pulling back the curtain. If I take too long, she'll try do it herself. She gives the biggest, warmest smile when she is found :) She also likes This Little Piggy, Ring Around the Rosy Like a Teddy Bear, and Pat-A-Cake. 

Loves having a bath. She will slowly make her way towards the bathroom to play on the Hello Kitty shower mat when I am not looking.

Now matter where I stick her, she manages to find a tissue and eat it, new or used. It amazes me.


Tidbits:
When she smiles she scrunches up her nose >-<
Loves playing under blankets
Can pull her hair back in a ponytail
Recognizes Daddy and smiles
Loves watching TV and will scoot right up to it
She is slowly losing weight but not enough to give my arms a break! 

We love our 10 monther and will be treasuring our last 2 months with before she turns 1.


More next month!

Dani

19 May 2014

Pearls of Wisdom

I am writing this post because lately, my memory has been shocking and I don't want forget these pearls of wisdom!

Juns parents stayed over last night on their way to the Tokyo Temple. Then today after lunch, Jun's Mum and I had a good chat about health and how I want to eliminate sugar from my diet. The conversation lead to parenting and she told me from her own experience what she had learnt as a Mother. She spoke in Japanese, and if you've heard my Japanese you'll know it's not the best, BUT I understood what she was trying to say to me and I want to post it here so that I will never forget it.

She said that your children are always looking at the world from behind your back. They are always watching what we (their parents) are doing whether we think they are or not. If they see us cleaning up or serving others, they will think that cleaning up and serving others are good things. They learn from our example. She then shared an experience she had with Jun. When Jun was on his mission in Oakland, California, he sent them a letter. Inside it he wrote that growing up, he always saw his parents constantly doing things for others, going to church, the temple, firesides etc. They were always busy doing something for other people and Jun used to think, "Why can't they spend more time with their own children instead of helping others?" He didn't understand why they always gave their time away to other people. But when he was on his mission, there was a time when him and his companion contemplated about going to visit an elderly woman. That woman had been hoping for the missionaries to visit that day, and they came. She was ecstatic that they came and kept on thanking them over and over again. In that moment, Jun understood why his parents did what they did and why it was so important to serve others. Upon receiving that letter, Jun's Mum cried and cried because she was so happy that he felt that way. It was such a relief knowing that she hadn't screwed it up and that he had learnt from their example that doing good unto others is not only a nice thing to do, but is important. Jun is now that kind of person. He is always willing to help people and has such a big heart. 

So I guess what I want to remember is that my children are watching me and it is important to not tell them what to do, but to teach by example. I know that it sounds basic, but it hit me today that I need to be better. You can't force someone to do something, you can only show them the best way to do it and have them learn for themselves. So in areas like FHE, praying, scriptures, manners, sharing, being nice etc. I need to make sure that I am doing those things myself first.

Thanks Okaasan :)  

21 April 2014

Huis Ten Bosch, Nagasaki and Okinawa Trip!

While Jun was on holiday, we decided to go on a family vacay to the southern part of Japan and explore. We chose a place in Nagasaki called Huis Ten Bosch, a Dutch village, and Okinawa!

Huis Ten Bosch was AMAZING! I was not expecting that much! We arrived by ferry and were welcomed into a tucked away slice of Holland, right here in Japan. It was right by the sea... or a lake... I still don't know which one it was, but it was beautiful. The place was HUGE as well! So many different attractions and restaurants and areas. For example, a "masquerade ball" were you all dance in a courtyard following the dancers actions. It was kinda weird though because they were wearing expressionless masks but dancing really hard out hahaha. Reia loved it. We were really lucky because when we went, they had a firework display that lasted for 2 HOURS! It was reeeally amazing but super loud. Like battlefield loud. We walked in the opposite direction towards the windmill and tulip gardens to get away from the noise. They also had a a whole bunch of One Piece attractions too. Reia likes pirates and so by the end of the trip when ever she would see a character, she would shout "Mum! My friend!"

The hotel we stayed in was right by the waterfront and our room was very old. Victorian old. The breakfast buffet was GOOD. Probably one of the best I have had. They had a pastry section and the custard and pecan ones were my fav. Burnt my tongue on the custard once but t'was worth iiiiit lol. 

They also had a ferris wheel, mazes, a kids land, obstacle course, flying fox, ferries, tulip gardens, a whole bunch of rides, boat rides, gardens, spas, and one of the most awesome illumination gardens I have ever seen! The place was decked out!

One thing that puzzled me was that even though this place was awesome from head to toe and there were rides and food and cool attractions everywhere, there weren't nearly as many people there that there should have been, considering what it has to offer! Jun said that it is doing much better now that a travel agency bought it, but still! People need to visit there! I highly recommend visiting there!

The downer for me was that there was no salted herring or salt licorice. I was looking forward to getting my Dutch fix but never mind.

Our next stop was Okinawa! I had never been before but was always curious about it because it's an Americanized version of Japan. It really is. They even have an American Village with shops, food stalls, and a movie theatre (we ate at Tony Roma's for dinner!). I noticed that all the buildings looked really old... like decaying concrete of there is such a thing.

We stayed right next to the American base in the middle of the main island which was nice because we were traveling up and down the coast which we were there. Our room was pretty spacious! We had 3 huge beds between the for of us and a big couch/bed in the living room. Jun couldn't get over how cheap the whole package to Okinawa had been including the flight, room, and car.

We went to a few places. The aquarium, which was soooo cool by the way. Dolphin AND whale shows. I didn't know whales could jump like that! They had gorgeous flowers and beautiful scenery. You could see a whole bunch of different aquatic animals and we hadn't even gotten into the aquarium yet! The aquarium itself was pretty fantastic. The main attraction was of these huge whale sharks! There were like 3 of them or something swimming around in a HUGE tank full of other kinds of fish. I was not expecting to see something so big so it took me by surprise.

We also visited the war memorial which was super sad. Jun didn't like staying in there for too long because he was getting the heebie jeebies. The story is that there were a whole bunch of high school students during the war that were recruited out to become nurses and aids. Long story short, they were thanked for their work by their then President, and then told to disband and were left to survive on their own in the wilderness with an army of Americans on the loose. Some took shelter in caves, others fled but most of them died. So sad what one twisted man can do to a nation. So there was a sad solemn moment during our trip. When we got outside of the memorial center, there were about 3 shops, all selling the exact same thing and they were trying to get us to come to their shop... it was kinda weird. They lured me in with baby clothes lol and it worked! I bought these cute matching blue aloha dresses for about 800 yen! Can't wait till it gets hotter so my girls can wear them.

We also ate out at an Okinawan restaurant and had sea grapes >_< (salty!) Okinawan soba (prefer ramen), some kind of carrot and tuna salad which was yum and pork shabu shabu. A bit of an expensive splurge but worth the experience. That restaurant was on the main strip which was full of markets, food places and touristy things.

We went to a zoo for Reia who LOVED it. We had to hurry because we had a dinner date with our friends. Again, I was so surprised that hardly anyone was there. We practically had the whole place to ourselves which was cool.

The beach we went to was nice "looking" but the sand was so corse and dusty. The water was still cold and it was pretty windy, but from looking at our photos you can't tell :P

All in all, Okinawa and Huis Ten Bosch were amazing and I would definitely go back and visit!