Saturday, June 30, 2012

Fun in the Sun

Like many newlyweds, we started our marriage off in a tiny 1 bedroom apartment.  We quickly realized that was not enough for us and moved to a three bedroom and then moved across the world to Japan, where we finally had our own home.  Upon moving to Japan, we decided it was time for a pet.  The plan was a cat, but after going to a pet store out in town we immediately fell in love with the little chocolate lab that we now call our own.  Neko was a wild, energetic, and fun loving puppy who got all of our love and attention.  It was life before children.  We went on nightly walks, attempted runs, and brought him on weekly doggy play dates at the beach with other dog owners.  But suddenly it began getting warm and even more suddenly I was pregnant.  Dima deployed shortly after, and all of Neko's fun times ended.  Walks became more and more difficult as I developed round ligament pains and Neko was now almost 100 pounds.  Beach dates were sadly too much of a hassle, as most of my time would be spent chasing him down and that was an adventure I didn't want to go about alone.  Life for Neko was not the same, everything was changing and Daddy was gone.  Just when Daddy came home, we brought a baby brother home and Dima deployed just a week later.  Needless to say, Neko didn't get the love and attention he needed.  He began calming down and has actually been the sweetest of dogs lately.  He loves his little brother to death and I know he will love his new brother in just a few months.  
Neko most days, lazily watching his brother and hoping he will drop some food

Now that Zach is older, we don't yet have another baby here, and the weather was beautiful, we decided Neko deserved a day for him.  And what better place to do that then at the dog beach?  We arrived to an empty beach which was exactly what we needed.  It had been awhile since Neko had been to the beach and Zach can prove to be a bit difficult in the water.  He is quite fearless and will literally dive under if we let him! The quiet beach was just what we needed to focus on our boys.  There was plenty of room for Neko to run around while we played with Zach!  Neko is a typical lab- large and really stupid.  But among many other things, he is a water lover.  He may not enjoy baths in the front yard, but he loves swimming in the water and he immediately dove right in.  Of course, we brought a squeaky ball with us for him to play "fetch" with.  And I say "fetch" because it really just involves us throwing the ball, him getting it, and then running away as we try to get it back.  But in any case, he had a grand time splashing around and running in the hot sun.  Zach loved it too, he got to splash around in the little tide pools the beach had, and had great fun laughing at his brother as he dove and swam in the water.  We stayed for over an hour and played played played!  Both boys got exhausted from the fun of it all, so at that point we packed the car up and headed home for lunch.  The dog beach was a huge success and I cannot wait to bring them back again.  Neko was a great dog and I'm so proud of him.  I am loving this stage of dog-hood.  He is not a puppy, but isn't a lazy old fart yet either.  He is simply fun loving, but not in a wild way like his old way!  
Neko ready for the ride!

Riding shotgun with daddy

Playing in a tide pool

He would not let go of this squeaky ball!

Zach trying to get Neko to come

Typical lab photo

Watching his brother's every move

Couldn't be happier

Cooling down in a tide pool

The empty beach

The water was the perfect temperature

Sit, stay, GO!

Gotta get that ball!

Swimming back to shore

Gotta love labs

Licking the salt water off before round 2

Zach laughed the entire time

He couldn't get over that his doggy could swim

I love this shot!

When we got home, we ate our lunch, put Z down for a nap, and then headed out the door again for the pool.  Gosh Zach is spoiled!  We went a bit further today to get to a pool with a kiddy pool for Zach.  Zach loved it, but unfortunately wanted nothing to do with his floaties and simply wanted to dive under the water.  Needless to say our trip was short, but fun all the same.  

We went home and had dinner followed by another exciting summer activity- homemade popsicles!  I made healthy peanut butter fudgesicles (with no sugar and using almond milk) that were just begging to be eaten.  Zach had never tried a popsicle before, so we knew this was an outdoor photo-worthy opportunity.  He loved it and eventually took the popsicle from me to hold it himself.  He got just a bit dirty in the process and may have ruined his onesie, but it was worth every bite and stain to watch him devour his first popsicle! 
Hey this stuff is pretty good

MMMmmm give me more!

Forget it just give me the whole thing!

Mom's been holding out on me!

More more more!

Now that's food

We got so much crossed off our list this week and are glad to report that many more are in the works this week!  This Stepanoff Summer Sixty has proven to be a great idea and I'm so glad I started it!

Stepanoff Summer Sixty Checkoff:

o  Beach
o  Dog beach

o  Make popsicles

Splish Splash-pad fun!

This morning was unfortunately spent running a bunch of errands.  Whenever that happens, I feel very bad for my poor baby boy.  He is such an energetic and fun baby and at his age, he really needs some fun developmental stimulation.  Nobody wants to be carted around in a cart while mommy and daddy run all around- especially a 17 month old!  After his nap, we decided it was time for some Zach time.  And on a beautiful day like today we headed straight to the pool.  Only this time we didn't even get in the water, we headed right to the splash pad at Kadena's pool.
Seriously, what kid doesn't like a sprinkler?  This was ten times better then a sprinkler.  The water was perfect, and we were even shaded from the bright and hot sun while Z was able to play.  He was absolutely fearless today- he loved every minute of it and "dove" right in.  Unfortunately, the jets in this thing were much stronger then we guessed.  He was knocked over quite a bit in the beginning, but quickly learned how to hold his own under the pressure.  He ran around, through the sprinklers, around them, and explored as much as he could.  He had a grand time running around!
Such a happy boy!

Which one should we run through next?

Splashing around with Daddy

This one made him fall over a few times but eventually he got the hang of it!

Splashing around in the sprinkler is surely a new favorite activity of the summer.  I cannot wait to bring Zach again!  He was so happy and ended up falling asleep very fast tonight!  Horay for early sleeping!

Stepanoff Summer Sixty Checkoff:

o  Sprinkler

Friday, June 29, 2012

Chilling by the beach and an epic fail!

Today Dima's unit had a required fun beach bash.  It was a beautiful day-perfect for the beach so we headed down to Araha to join the festivities.  We spent our time chatting with some friends and avoiding the very hot sun.  Eventually it was time to leave and Zach decided he's rather just stay and chill...
Yep- That's my kid in a cooler of ice.  In all fairness it was very hot!  

After a nap, we decided to try to cross something off of our Stepanoff Summer Sixty: Geocaching.  For those who don't know, geocaching is a worldwide treasure hunt.  It involves using a GPS to find containers that others have hidden.  They are everywhere.  All over the world, even in the middle of nowhere.  Just go online and search for one in your area- I promise there is one near you!  
We hit up our computers and found one very close to our house and headed out the door in just a few minutes.  We downloaded an application to our iphones for geocaching and headed in the right direction.  
There was a hint for this clue, called "Lexie's Leap Year Cafe."  It said: "I would try searching one of those things you see all over Okinawa.  Even in the middle of nowhere.  Now only if I had some yen." Our iphones brought us to a Starbucks in American Village where there were many Japanese people.  It was quite interesting to see the Japanese stare at us.  We were surely a spectacle.  A young man pushing a stroller with a very cute baby and his 7 month pregnant wife ducking and walking around with iphones.  With the clue, we had one very good guess as to where this Cache was- a vending machine.  Vending machines are seriously everywhere in Japan.  You could be going down an empty sugar cane field and suddenly see one on the side of the road.  This was our best guess so we searched it up and down.  We ducked, jumped, and poked all over this darn machine and found nothing after at least 15 minutes of searching.  Eventually, we assumed it was moved or we failed.  In any case, we did not accomplish anything on our Stepanoff Summer Sixty today.  
Our Cache ended up bring us right outside our house to American Village- a tourist landmark in Okinawa

Dima pushing Zach, headed toward the supposed cache

After our failed attempt, we headed home for dinner.  After Dinner, we sat in the front with a few friends and chatted.  While doing this, we had our new video baby monitor next to us.  It has been so much fun watching Zach on this thing.  We were never able to see him before, but now we can watch as he falls asleep.  It is without a doubt our new favorite form of night time entertainment.  Who needs tv when you can watch a 17 month old?  
I once glanced at the monitor and saw Zach standing in the corner of his crib with his blanket on his head like a ghost.  He stood like this for about 5 minutes.  Eventually, he dove head first into his mattress.  His head was pressed into the mattress, his knees and legs on the mattress, and his butt in the air, face down.  He stayed still like this for at least 2 minutes (blanket still on his head) and I assumed he had fallen asleep.  He then stands up, puts the blanket back on his head, and walks right into the side of the crib and falls over.  That's my kid.  
Eventually he did fall asleep.  I have always said he sleeps in the weirdest positions- tonight was no exception by far.  
Arms up, feet sticking out of his crib.  Some nights he gets his thighs stuck, tonight was not one of those nights.

Even though we didn't accomplish anything today, I will gladly say that we enjoyed ourselves in the hunt.  We will try again in the near future- as this was a really fun activity!  I encourage you all to try Geocaching!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood...

Lately we have been blessed with some stunningly beautiful days in Okinawa.  It usually rains from about March to the start of July, and it's looking like we got a break since it rained from Feb-June this year instead.  I have been taking full advantage of these beautiful days by relaxing in the front with a glass of water soaking up some rays while Zach naps.  When Zach wakes up, we have been spending it in his baby pool and playing in the front yard.  He loves the water, but would much rather be at the beach or the pool then in this tiny little baby pool we have.  Some days though, you just want to be in the comfort of your own home instead of all over the place.  And with a dog and a toddler at home while 7 months pregnant- that's exactly what I've wanted to do.  Our friend AnnMarie was nice enough to give us a water activity center to play with too.  
Today we decided to cross something off of our Stepanoff Summer Sixty list- sidewalk chalk.  Unfortunately with the pool and activity center set up it was very short lived.  But it did happen and that's why I'm crossing it off my list now!  Though I know there will be much more chalk fun in our future!  
Zach helped me with this sign at our door!

Zach trying to re-create my work

Improving it
My boy playing IN the water activity center.  He doesn't get the point of it.  You're supposed to stand next to it not get in it!  And he's only naked because all 3 of his swimsuits were in the wash- proof that we've really been getting out a lot this week!  

The 10 day forecast looks fantastic- so we have much more fun to be had in the future!  I cannot wait to start crossing more things off of our Stepanoff Summer Sixty!

Stepanoff Summer Sixty Checkoff:

o  Sidewalk Chalk

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Birthday Pampering

Today is my birthday!  I spent the morning saying goodbye to Dima, as he is off to Korea.  Don't worry, he won't be gone very long at all!  Since he was going, I decided it was a perfect excuse to pamper myself for once.  A mama needs the occasional pampering and what better way to do it then with a trip to Cocok's!  
Cocok's is a Japanese nail salon- only 10x better then in America.  It is beautifully decorated with a calming/island influence and they serve the most amazing ice tea!  But that's not the best thing about Cocok's.  No, far from.  The best thing is in the nail art they give.  It cost about 3900 yen for a pedicure (which in American dollars equals to about 43 dollars-eek!) so Cocok's is a once a month trip for most. Of course those beautiful pedicures usually last that entire month!  Unless you're 7 months pregnant in the summer that is (hair and nails grow super fast in the summer and even faster when you're pregnant).  
One of the other great things about a Cocok's pedicure is the massage.  When you first sit down you get to pick an oil scent from the large book they give you.  Unfortunately, many of them are not allowed when pregnant because they can cause contractions so my choices were limited.  That oil is then used in an amazingly long foot and leg massage.  
And that's exactly what I wanted for my birthday.  Some peace and quiet while being pampered for once.  And thanks to my great friend, Jess, I had someone to play with Zach while I enjoyed my day.  

When you first sit down at Cocok's you are handed the book.  And by the Book, I mean a very large and heavy book to go through and pick the design on your feet.  These designs can easily be changed to accommodate a different background color or even the flowers can be changed.  You name it- they can do it.  
This is only one of the books I was handed.  I was handed 2 books!  This one was about 25 pages and was light compared to the other one.  
Just one page of nail art to choose from!  It can be a bit overwhelming at times- there are simply so many to choose from!
While you look through the books, your feet are filed then soaked in a warm bath.  In the meantime, they grab the oil you requested (I chose coconut) and begin your massage while you sip ice tea and look through the nail art.  Unfortunately this is where my photos stop, as I got distracted and didn't take any more photos. 
I usually go into Cocok's with some kind of idea of what I want for my nail's design.  This time I wanted something BRIGHT and fun.  My vision included a white background with some orange, yellow, and pink hibiscus flowers.  Surprisingly I did not find anything in the book that fit that description.  Instead, I took out my handy iphone and typed "white, pink, orange, yellow nail art" and up popped a beautiful photo that was almost exactly what I wanted!  I asked them to change a few things on it to my liking and they gladly did just that.  Not hibiscus flowers, but hey I'll take it!  I'll have to remember the iphone in the future!  
My finished artwork.  I love the fresh and fun colors!  Just my kind of style this time of year!
Please excuse the ugly feet- I had not yet gotten any sun.  I now have a flip flop tan for the first time in my life.  

And so, even though I didn't have a handsome hubby to lay down to that evening, I did have a little chance at relaxation today.  I cannot wait to get another pedicure before baby is born as a "push present" to myself!  

Stepanoff Summer Sixty checkoff:

o  Pedicure

Sunday, June 24, 2012

suksan wan gert

Suksan wan gert- Happiness on your birthday

Amazingly enough, in the over 4 years we have been together, Dima and I have spent almost all of my birthdays together.  The first year he was away at OCS, the second year we spent it in Disney World, the third here in Okinawa I cannot seem to recall, and last year we got bombarded with tons of rain. We have been extremely lucky to have spent so many birthdays together and consider ourselves lucky.  We thought this year we would get to spend another birthday together, but unfortunately we found out a few days ago that Dima is going away very soon.  Leave it to the Marines!  Gotta love military life!  We decided that we would make the most of the weekend before my birthday instead and I got to pick what we would do.  
We are really lucky to get to live on such a beautiful island.  As much as I curse many of the things Okinawa has to offer, this is one thing that I will say with absolute certainty- when it's a nice day out, Okinawa is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.  Today was one of those days that proved that exact point. 
I have been trying to get Dima to Thai in the Sky for almost 2 years now.  Unfortunately, every time we try to go, the weather is bad and it's just not worth going when it's rainy or even cloudy!  When you see the photos, you will see why it's just not worth going to this place if the weather is not perfect.  The odds were finally in our favor, as this weekend was absolutely beautiful.  If you know me well enough, you will know this one thing- my favorite kinds of food in this world are Japanese, Indian, and Thai.  Japanese for their unique sushi that we get here in Japan (not those boring rolls like in America!), Indian for their unique blends of curry (more specifically- Laxmi!), and Thai for the wondrous blends of turmeric, lemongrass, and out of this world spice!  Being in Asia- Thai food is one that taste far better then in America.  Seriously, does it even compare?  There are some wonderful Thai places here and the mix of yummy food and a beautiful view will draw anyone to Thai in the sky!  
The truly unique thing about this place lies not only in the fact that it's in the middle of nowhere, but it's also got a very random assortment of other things surrounding it.  There is a bomb shelter across the street with plastic dinosaurs you can climb on, and a fossil museum right next door.  Seriously, only in Okinawa does such a unique thing exist!  And with those things in mind, we loaded up the car with our friends, Tim, Angie, and their Daughter Natalie and headed south!  
Getting ready- Zach is obsessed with shoes these days.  He walks around the house saying, "shoes, shoes, shoes" over and over again until his shoes are on his feet.  Here he is trying on Daddy's shoes.  Wrong foot buddy!

I think I got this!
Odd assortment of ugly pottery in front of the entrance

Tim and Natalie

My family at the front entrance.  Just one day shy of 28 weeks pregnant here and feeling great!

Gotta love Okinawa's bugs
Part of the fossil museum

I wish I could have afforded this beautiful piece!  

Come on mom, let's check out the garden!

Leading Daddy into the beautiful garden

Mom, aren't you coming?  I'm waiting for you!

My handsome hubby

This is why Mommy can never finish her water- the boys are constantly stealing it!
Looking at the fish.  "Fish" is one of Zach's favorite words too!

Signing "fish" with Daddy.  This is a favorite sign too!

My boys by the pond

Our great friends- Tim and Angie

Little lovers admiring the view

Chatting away a storm
Natalie and Angie

It is so hard to get a 17 month old to look at the camera!


Love this boy!

Tim and Natalie

Admiring the beauty

My cheesy boys

Love that face

Dangling off the edge.  Just kidding!

The view from our table.  Seriously- this place is paradise!
Dima's Tom Yum Soup- this was fantastic!

Natalie's Beef curry

My Pad Thai

After our adventure down south, we came home to a cranky baby.  Zach went down for a late nap and when he awoke, the day was still beautiful.  What to do in Okinawa on a beautiful day?  To the beach! Unfortunately, there was a baseball game going on, so we couldn't find a parking spot.  Instead, we headed to the pool.  Zach loves to swim so he doesn't care where he's swimming.  The pool was just as good in his eyes!  
Stealing mommy's keys before diving in

He loved playing with this noodle in the water!  

No!  I don't want to get out!  

And so, that concluded our fun in the sun day.  We headed home to have a yummy salmon dinner in the front yard.  I will still be a bit bummed to miss Dima on my actual birthday, but at least we got to spend this beautiful day together enjoying our family.  It will surely be a fun birthday next year with two boys around!

Stepanoff Summer Sixty Checklist:

Try a new food

Tom-Yum Soup

We all loved this fantastic, spicy, and flavorful soup!