Monday, January 30, 2012

The rest of Sunday

After Cannon's recital, we went to check out some nearby cherry blossom trees that we found last year with our friend Liz.  This was an unusual, off the beaten path kind of place, up a very steep hillside.  At the top of some very steep steps is a platform which offers a wonderful view of the narrowest part of our island.  Consequently, you can see both the Pacific and the East China Sea.

I love their faces on this one!

Going up

View from the top looking north.  Right side: Pacific  Left side: East China Sea

Last year, Stevie stayed at the bottom of the steps and let Liz, Lydia, Emmy and I make the climb, but this year he joined us with the boys.  I'm not sure he was prepared for the height - as you can tell...

Turns out it was a bit early for the trees, but it was a nice little walk with a pretty view!

Afterwards, we headed over to the East China Sea side of the island to find a beach for a short walk.  There are lots of beaches in this area and we haven't explored many of them.  Moon Beach is a popular one I've heard about that's attached to a resort, but since it is "winter" time, the resort was pretty empty as was the beach.  Our guide book says that it used to be the playground for US military officers and their wives after the war was over.  After viewing the beach, I can see why.  It was one of those beautiful sites that makes me pause and think, "Yeah, I live here!"

The tidal pools are always full of interesting treasures, including this poor battle scarred starfish that Stevie found.

And this beautiful piece of sea glass.  See, it matches the color of the water!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cannon's piano recital

It's that time of year again - time for a trip up to the fancy Renaissance Hotel in Onna Village so that Cannon can partake in the music school's semi-annual recital.  This year's piece was Arabesque by Burgmuller.  I have to say he played it beautifully.  In fact, I had parents asking afterward how long he has played (3 years).  He was getting all kinds of compliments as we walked out of the room.  Kind of makes me wish I hadn't stopped taking lessons with him...

Way to go, Cannon, we're so proud of you!

Cannon and Mrs. Choi, his teacher

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Mustache Mania

Last Saturday Zachariah, the little baby whose birth Stevie and I were both witness to a year ago (Stevie delivered him and I was in the room taking pictures) turned one year old!  Our good friends Krimp and Dima threw him a big "mustache bash" to celebrate the big day.  You see, Zach doesn't have any hair (or at least he has fine hair that makes him still look bald) so it was kind of a joke that at least he'd have a mustache for the day.

Anyways it was really cute, especially the photo booth she had set up for kids to dress up in dress shirts and ties and a mustache.  Don't you just love the girl child's attitude?  And we think Cannon actually looks quite good in a mustache!

Of course there was the obligatory cake (shaped as ties and mustaches!)

Zach wasn't getting the whole cake thing, so Krimp helped him out by giving him a taste...

Then, the lights went on and he definitely "got" it!

Happy birthday, Zach!

Tax Free

...Witch Craft.  Yes, it is what this storefront is advertising!  I was driving down 58, our main thoroughfare, this week and spied this "store" while I was sitting at a red light.  I know it's hard to read, but the little sign to the right of the door says "witch craft".  Never knew witch craft was a taxable item!

Tinsel Teeth

Another one of my babies is growing up - London got braces (at least on his front four teeth) this week!  They're going to make his beautiful smile even brighter!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Model for US Airlines

As you probably remember, Stevie flew back to the States at the beginning of December to interview for jobs. What you may or may not know is that getting to the States was one of the biggest ordeals in flying I've ever heard.  Basically it took the poor guy 51 hours to get from Okinawa to Maine at which point he had 6 hours to sleep before going through a grueling all day interview process.

The reason for the ordeal was that his first flight out of Okinawa was delayed because of a medical emergency.  Some poor lady was having a heart attack before the plane even left the ground.  Being the good Samaritan that he is, Stevie and one other doc from the Naval Hospital who also happened to be on the plane attended to the woman while the ambulance was called and the paramedics could take over.

Now ANA (All Nippon Airlines) had already paid for a hotel room in Tokyo for Stevie (and my mom who was traveling with him, although, in fairness, only after Stevie "convinced" them to) and they offered him an upgrade to business class for only $80 when he got to the gate. Apparently they knew exactly who he was even though it was the next day and a different flight from the original - "Ahhh, Dr. Coats, we know about you."  

Who would have expected anything more?

But this is Japan, and in Japan apologizing and expressing gratitude is a fine art which seems to permeate all aspects of its culture.  Including airlines.

Why do I say this?  Because today I picked up the mail and found a notice for a certified letter.  The letter was from ANA addressed to Mr. Stephend Coats.  Inside?  A letter thanking him for his generous service during the doomed flight and a gift - a thank you - five 1,000 Yen gift cards!  Have you ever, EVER heard of an airline sending a passenger a thank you gift?  Dang, I'm going to miss this country when we leave.

The letter...

It reads, "We would like to express our sincere gratitude for you assistance on (flight).  All of our flight crew members were very grateful for the help you had offered when one of our customers had fallen ill.  We thank you for your willing generosity once again, and look forward to serving you on our flight again in the near future."

The gift envelope so nicely packaged...

About $60 worth of gift cards!

Monday, January 16, 2012


Boy, what a weekend.  Three days of rainy, bleary weather, two days of a husband on call and two days where my eldest son was running a fever.  It's one of those weeks when I'm glad for school to start and the weekend to be done.

So after being cooped up all weekend, I forced the littlest ones outside for a short spell this afternoon.  I suited them up in their rain boots and told them to go find some puddles.  Strangely, only Emmy took me up on this proposition - but she had fun!




Love her hair on this one!

Walking on water?

My rainy day puddle jumper.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sports Depot

This morning, I was trying to go to a new Japanese store that I heard about, but as luck would have it, I picked the one day they opened at 11:00 (I got there at 10:00).  What kind of big store opens at 11:00???  So to pass time I took Emmy to the store next door - Sports Depot.  It's not that I was exactly looking for sporting goods, it was just a way to pass time.  But as with most things Japanese, the store was entertaining in its differences from its US counterpart (think Dick's Sporting Goods).

The first thing that caught our attention were the tennis shoes.  Shall we say they were rather, ummm, colorful?

I love the 43% off.  Why 43%???

Emmy liked these - they have maps on them (these are adult shoes).

Now that's a colorful display wall.

But I do have to give the Japanese credit, they have some really good ideas.  Like these clear shoes to put on your kid so you know what size they are.  Ingenious!

Too big, guess she's a 19.0 cm.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Search for a clock, part 2

Sunday afternoon we all piled in the Golden Nugget again and turned her south to find the clock shop.  I felt a great adventure coming on, but the end result was not what I had hoped.  First, that little pamphlet's map was not helpful.  We went climbing up crazy roads thinking we were going to find the shop, but to no avail.

Hoping that no one was going to come barreling around that turn...

And then our first stop at a grocery store to ask for directions netted nothing.  Finally, we stopped when we saw a group of women on the side of the road and they knew the store and one was so kind as to grab her keys and lead us in her car to the shop!  And there would have been no other way to find that shop - they definitely weren't set up for easy access.

Following a random lady driving us to the store...

Does this look like a clock store to you?

Well, for all our effort, we decided we really didn't like the clocks that well (or well enough for the $250-$400 price tag) and ended up leaving without a clock. :(

But the day was not lost because the beaches on the south end of the island are awesome too so we went beach hopping again.  We drove down a long, winding farm road to what looked like an entrance to a beach - it was an overgrown path through the brush.  But as I started walking through it I stopped suddenly when I realized I was standing at the top of a really tall cliff with nothing between me and death but a step and a half more!  Good job I was in the lead, and the kids weren't running ahead of me.  Off to the side we found a better path that wound down the side of the cliff for a little while.  Stevie and Emmy stayed at the top while I went down to explore followed soon by London and Emmy.  It was beautiful but I was reminded of the gruesome history of these cliffs during the Battle of Okinawa and stood in awe.

One more step to my fate...

My boys

Heading up

Beautiful Okinawa

Since we couldn't get to a beach here, we decided to go on to our "Liz and Don" beach - the one we frequented many weekends when Liz, Don and Lydia still lived here.  It had been a while since we had been there and it was good to go back.

The sun decided to finally poke out as we walked down the beach leading to some stunning views.

My chickadees