Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Kitto Katsu

My neighbor, Angie, has introduced me to countless new wonders on Okinawa, but today she introduced us to a new hobby - Kit Kat hunting.  You see, apparently the Japanese love their Kit Kats, so much so that they need to tweak them, improve on them, make them their own and they do this by adding flavors to them.  No ordinary milk chocolate Kit Kat will do when there are exotic flavors like azuki bean, green tea or sweet potato to add.  Kit Kat apparently sounds a whole lot like the Japanese phrase "kitto katsu" which means "I hope you succeed" so it's common to give these little nummies to students before they take tests or whenever someone is in need of a little well-wishing.

There is actually a website out there documenting over 100 different flavored Kit Kats in the world!  Yes, apparently Nestle (or Hersheys in the US) treats other parts of the world to this culinary delight, but unfortunately not their US customers.

So the rumor on island is the further you get away from the military bases, the better (or more unusual) the flavors you can find.  And the best chance of finding these Kit Kats is to stop at one of the MANY convenient stores on island (Lawsons, CoCos or FamilyMart).  So today that's what we did.  Call us crazy, but Angie and I loaded our 6 kids in the back of the "Blue Beater" (our van) and headed down to the bottom of the island.  Every time we saw a convenient store, we stopped, taking turns to run in and check the stock. 

Angie and London coming out with a "hit"

There were lots of stops, few scores,

(Cannon coming back to the car after scoring 3 flavors at one store!)

but by the end of the day we tallied up 19 stops with hits at five of the stops!  The resulting flavors?

Green Tea

Dark chocolate 

(Can you see the chocolate all over Emmy's face?)

Coffee? (we think) and Raspberry

Strawberry, banana and milk chocolate minis

Mixed fruit (as translated by the security guard at the front gate!)

We rated each candy bar as we ate it and the winner was...banana!!!

Half way around our tour we stopped at an amazing beach to let the kids run off some of the sugar buzz and stretch our legs.  The water around here never ceases to amaze me with its array of shades of blue.  Angie and I were trying to describe it.  Blue gatorade (as another neighbor called it)?  Blue jello?  Blue tarp blue?  I don't think there is a true descriptive word and maybe that's the beauty of the color - like no other in the world.

(Isaac, Andrew, Becca, Cannon, London & Emmy)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Cat Snacks

I had to go to Makeman's today, one of my favorite stores on the island, for a shoe organizer.  Long story, but before I erupted like the pile of shoes in my 2' X 2' entry does every day, I thought it best to find a solution in an expanded shoe organizer.

Anyways, unfortunately my favorite store is the kids least favorite store (I think it has to do with some annoying little jingle they play on the overhead speakers every 7 minutes) so I had to appease them by promising them a stop at the fish tanks/pet department.  The fish are fish, the puppies are cute, but the aisles of pet goodies is what had me entertained!  I wondered into the cat food aisle to buy cat food (an honest pursuit).  Our cat, Obi, is persnickety about his chow, so I figure maybe he'll like Japanese cat food since he is a Japanese cat.  I was stopped in my tracks by the packages.  Dried fish, worms and pieces of chicken in the cat food!

The kids were running out of patience, but I ended up buying some more time by distracting them with these product packages. See if you can figure out what the products are for! We made up all kind of stories.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Japanese Bubbles

I once saw a photo that a neighbor of ours took of her kids with these incredibly big, incredibly strong bubbles and I heard that they were "Japanese bubbles".  Since then, Kelly and I have been looking for these magical bubbles so that we, uh, I mean the kids, could play with them.

While I was at the 100 Yen store today with the kids I finally found the magical bubbles!  Except they're not really bubbles, but what the package calls "big plastic balloon".  Basically the kit comes with a tube of goop and two thin red straws.  The idea is that you put a ball of "balloon gel" on the end of the straw and then blow up the balloon/bubble. 

Totally amazing!  And it works.  The balloons come out looking like Saran Wrap bubbles that you can bounce around, even make balloon sculptures out of because if two touch, they stick together.  All this entertainment for 100 Yen!


What kind of flies do they have around here that you need a fly swatter like this????

Ha, ha, ha!!!  Really it's a rug beater, but for a minute there in the 100 Yen store I was wondering about the bugs on this island...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there, especially our own in-house version!  The kids were very excited about Father's Day today and all decided the best present they could give Stevie was the chance to sleep in.  They somehow have this association of Stevie and sleep...  Anyways around 9:30 we decided to wake him to give him his presents - London had made an adorable tie and Kindergarten-classic picture and writing about his dad.  In his mind, Stevie is 6 feet tall and weighs 20 pounds!

After a sturdy breakfast we headed off to spend the day at the beach.  The weather was great for splashing at the beach and we enjoyed a really nice day snorkeling and floating in the beautiful water.

Emmy even found a little Japanese girl to be her friend and they spent hours floating on their floaties and digging in the sand.  Neither one spoke a word of the other's language, but that didn't seem to matter.  Isn't being 3 great?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Movie Theatre

Last Saturday my neighbor gave me some passes to go to the movies for free so I checked out the online schedule for movies and found "Marmaduke" was playing at four.  Now you're probably thinking how is Marmaduke going to speak Japanese, and more importantly, how are we going to understand him, but don't worry, almost all the bases here have their own movie theatres.

Now when you or I think movie theatres in the States, we think bright neon signs announcing the newest blockbuster, big cushy seats, stadium seating, Dolby sound system, maybe even 3-D -right?  Well, to truly enjoy the experience here you must forget all these things and simply be thankful you are hearing the movie in English and not Japanese.  Yes, you must think back to a time before comfort, glam and (thankfully) $10 movie tickets.  For the theatres on base are, shall we say, basic.

Here's the "bright neon signs" of our theatres...

And here are the "cushy seats" - that's a plastic booster seat that Emmy is sitting on that they give the kids so they can see (no stadium seating here)...

But best of all, and I bet you've never seen this before, before the trailers, before the "turn off cell phones" announcement, etc. the movie screen pops to life with a grainy clip showing patriotic scenes while boldly playing the National Anthem.  Immediately, every derrier in the joint, small, medium or large, lifts from their seat and stands stiffly at attention for the duration of the song, after which bodies collapse back into their seats and the munching of popcorn resumes.  Isn't that a hoot? (Sorry, no photos of this - I thought it might seem rude.)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

School's Out for Summer!

As of 11:35 am (Okinawa time) the school year finally ended! I know alot of you have been out for awhile, but our kids are just now escaping.  London is so excited to now be "A First Grader" - Mom, however, is a little traumatized by that.

Cannon, London, Isaac and Andrew heading into school for the last day (note the humidity on the camera lens!)

London and Mrs. Hammer - his awesome teacher.

London coming out of school.  Is he excited or what?

Cannon's excited too - 5th grade here I come!

All the teachers waving goodbye to the buses.  Sayonara!

Celebratory lunch at the noodle restaurant.  We got corrected by the Japanese on how to correctly eat the noodles, but the kids preferred their way!

Emmy attempting to do it the right way.

What better way to say summer than an afternoon splash in the pool?  The weather has been so rainy here that the front yard is a swamp - hence the muddy water.  They didn't seem to care!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Row, row, row your boat

Today I got to experience a truly Japanese tradition - Dragon Boat racing.  About a month or so ago I wrote about the dragon boat races that I attended in Naha (capital city) where teams of men or women race against each other in long boats.  I really thought at the time, how cool would that be to be a part of a team?  But practices were early (5 am in the water!) and long (six weeks before the race) so I thought it might only be a pipe dream.

But yesterday afternoon, my neighbor, Angie, told me that there are dragon boat races all summer in various communities around the island and that there are two teams of military spouses that race in them (the Summer Dragons).  Furthermore, she had been asked to fill in for someone who couldn't make it so she was going to get to race!  With my tongue a-waggin' I asked if they needed anyone else???  The answer came at 9 o'clock last night - I could go!!!  I wasn't sure if I was going to get to race, but I was game just to be there as a part of the festivities.  So shortly after dropping the kids off at school we headed to the bottom of the island - across a short bridge to another island (Ou-jima) to the races.  Turns out Team B was one body short so without any training, grueling workouts or freezing practices I realized my dream of being a part of a dragon boat race!  I really feel a little bad for skipping all the hard work just to realize the glory, but the other team members seemed appreciative to have me there because otherwise they would have had to forfit.

The newest Summer Dragon member!

My friend Angie and I

The motley crew

We're in!  That's me in the back left with the ponytail.

Powering down the first stretch!

Made the first turn and heading back to the second turn.

We made it!  Came in second, but not bad.

My biggest cheerleader (I got a little wet from the splash!)