Friday, December 28, 2007

More pictures.

And Craig with his Holga and I with my Canon, had just headed down to the sea wall for a long winters' snapping. (of pictures) So you know, the kid couldn't be left out!
Here's my honey with his belated holiday giftie!

And I took the SLR, and on the way back I got such a kick out of the long shadows. Here are the Bowmans being goofy on our street.

And since I cannot seem to relay the cuticiousness - adorabletude - sassyocity of her new swingy haircut (it really does move a lot) - and Mia is standing next to me as I type and says, "Say 'haircut that I love' please," - HERE is a little composite of the 'do from this afternoon.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

New 'Do & Thanks, Edith!

Well - we cut more of the kid's hair. It's now in a mod bob - now mind you, she slept on it, but you'll get the idea. Somehow I couldn't capture the cuteness & movement of it today, but it's just adorable, and Mia loves it so much it seems her personality has decided to follow the sassy little 'do.

So about a week ago, I received a gift in the mail for Mia, and was so delighted to see it was an ETSY gift for her from Edith! A hand-made apron, for smaller people. With a great note saying if she was going to be a Top Chef, she'd need the garb. THANKS, Edith - she loves it and wears it around the house now. Here's the kiddo showing off the new cut and the apron with some gear in hand.

Christmas Eve

I know - I'm late on this, but I'm having such fun editing some great pictures.

The Turner kids, Cole, Nat & Ella with Mia on the couch
John slicing the roast beast - I mean prime rib (YUM)
Mia & Natalie dressed for the Nutcracker performance. I wasn't aware there was lion, but hey - get creative.

All of them from the beautiful home of Kanoe & John can be found here.

Christmas day pictures later today!

Great great evening. More info soon, and a big surprise. Hint - someone got a new 'do! Gotta run!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

And the Coincidences Continue

This island is small. "Ess Em Alllll..." (to quote the great Sammy Davis in Cannonball Run.) Not just that it's small (because it's also really densely populated) but the world of Americans or non-Japanese folks on this island is really really tiny. You need to be nice all the time (not that it's difficult) because the person you're talking about - well, her best buddy whose husband is deployed with hers - is sitting right behind you at the coffee shop. SMALL.

Casey called me the other day to tell me she was at an Okinawan/American women's society luncheon and sat next to and chatted with my buddy Elizabeth that we met on the plane ride here and stayed in touch with. These kinds of stories are no longer surprising because I'd venture to say I'm the only Aviva on the island, so if you say my name - someone who has met me will recall. Thus conversations about me happen without my knowledge; story of my life.

So about a month ago, Casey and I went to SomChai for lunch. Yes, I'm a regular there now, it's the freaking bomb. There are about 5 tables in the whole place, and as we sat at a 4-top to wait for our meal, a couple (she was black and he was very tall and white) walked in with a little boy, about 2 years old. Casey & I commented on how he looked a bit like her son, Brice. The couple was speaking to each other in a foreign language I didn't recognize, and after they ordered food they looked for a non-existent empty table. Casey and I motioned for them to sit next to us, and they pulled up one more chair for their son and sat down.

I asked where they were from, and they said Sweden. Wow! I've been to Europe once in my life, back when I was working doing customer/tech support for an email software program. The company was Swedish - so when they launched their big upgrade, they flew the few US staff members over there to party with the owners of the company. Pretty sweet deal for me! We spent a week in Stockholm, in a lovely hotel, and enjoyed lots of Absolut and Ikea furniture. And licorice. Those Swedes LOVE licorice.

So I actually had something to talk about; fica breaks (their name for coffee breaks at work). And after I told them the two words I remembered besides that (skojl - or however you spell it - which you say when toasting, and hej and hej du -hello & good bye), they asked where we were from. At this point the food had arrived, and their son - probably 2 years old - was the most well behaved child EVER and was eating Thai food like it was his favorite thing in the world. At that restaurant, my kid would look at me as if I'd just placed a pig brain and rabbit turds in front of her and sang, "Bon appetit!"

I told her I grew up in New Jersey, and the two of them launched into wide-eyed grinning stories about how much they LIVE for Bruce Springsteen. They have a house full of bootlegs, and they want more than anything to live in New York because it's so culturally diverse and wonderful - and by the way, WE LOVE SPRINGSTEEN! YAAAAAAY BRUCE!

I guess the guy is here in Okinawa finishing his PHD in some kind of robotic engineering mechanical scientific field I know nothing about at a local university. Not related to military or government in any way, so it's challenging to find stuff sometimes when you can't just go on base to get it. And the girl is pregnant with kid #2 and they're homesick and though they love it here they're excited to go back to the US after he's done.

So we all had a lovely chat for a good while, and Casey and I said, "See you around," and we smiled and spoke for a while about how nice they were and went on our merry way. When I told the story to Craig later, I said, "Wow - this couple at the Thai restaurant in Okinawa was from Sweden, where I've been before, and they LOVE Bruce Springsteen and couldn't get enough of me being from New Jersey. RAN-DOM!"

So a couple of weeks back, after soccer was overwith, I called our friend Kanoe (whose hubby is a Marine and whose 3 kids are adorable - the older two were on Mia's soccer team, which is how we met, and their two-year-old Ella is Craig's BFF). I wanted to see if she'd like to have a get-together on Christmas Eve. She mentioned that deep fried turkey to us, and never got to have one on Thanksgiving - so I said, "Why not do it for Christmas Eve with the families?" She agreed and we figured we'd work out the details later.

This morning (Sunday) she emails & calls me and we set up who was making what, all very yummy & good. Then she said, "Listen - I have these friends, they have no place to go for Christmas Eve, and I thought I'd invite them. They're super nice - they're actually Swedish; he's here finishing his PHD, she's pregnant, they have a little boy and they're so homesick and would it be ok with you guys? I'm sure you'd like them..."

"Kanoe. Is she black?" (AS IF I needed to clarify that this was them....)


"I met them at SomChai about a month ago," I yelled - and laughed, and marveled at this weirdness.

THEN Kanoe proceeds to tell me that when she invited Myriam and her family for tomorrow night, she was telling them about us. Craig's from Ohio, Aviva's from New York (she didn't remember it was NJ and thought it was NY) and they have a daughter, and whatever else. And I guess Myriam brought UP meeting "a girl" at SomChai one day and she was from New Jersey and we talked for a while and they had such fun with her and wouldn't it be amazing if it was HER!?

Yes. Wouldn't it be.

So I floored Casey by calling her today and relaying that I'll be spending Christmas Eve with the Swedes we chatted with at Somchai a month ago. And as of yet I have no clue why Kanoe knows them - but I'm sure that'll be secondary.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Heard From the Living Room

I'm on the computer surfing around.

Craig (starting a game of Warhawk on the PS3 with his new rumble controller - that can only be bought in Japan right now): "Ok, Mia - it's not your favorite screen, but you like Archipelago. It's zones."
Mia: "No it's not. It's death match."
Craig: "No... it's zones."
Mia: (no hesitation) "Death match."
Craig: "'re right."
Mia: "I know."
Craig: "How did you know that?"
Mia: "See the little squares up top?"
Craig: "Dang - you're observant."
Mia: "Ok, Daddy - pay attention - you just passed a tow missile."

(WTF is a tow missile? I don't know - some kind of missile you can control - but cutely enough, Mia was calling this a "missile tow" after she learned the term - quite fitting for the season.)

Craig: "Ok - zones is next."
Mia: "Right, and after that is capture the flag...."

Upon finishing the game and getting rid of some enemy, they high five each other and Mia says, "See, Dad? Guns are better than knives." Quote of the year. This is what you get with the daughter of a Marine/Warhawk addict.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Only In Japan

First of all, I'll share the picture from our balcony this morning at 7:45. 10 minutes after Craig opened his eyes and realized he didn't set the alarm to get Mia up for school since he's on leave. So the mad dash to get Mia to the bus stop at 8:05 was.... let's just say interesting. But the sunrise was purty.

Mia has gotten very creative and swirly. This is her new way of writing her name.
I am thinking the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, I love to do lettering. And she's seen it before, so I'm all for fostering her amazing creativity!

Now - in the "Only in Japan" category... cell phone charms. Cell phones out here will NOT sell if there isn't a little space to attach a charm. I'm told the reason the iPhone was delayed here was because they had to make them with a place to loop the charm into. I believe it - EVERYONE here has jingly charms hanging from their phone! Well, I am not one to conform, but at the local photo/camera shop in town, they make charms where you can put a picture of your own on the face. There's a kid with a karate outfit, a panda bear - and this. A kimono-clad girl. Perfect for Mia's mug:
She's decked out with a bun, kimono, even little thongs. And you can't tell from the picture, but the face is contoured - the nose actually protrudes out a little bit. (If I had a macro lens, I'd show you - maybe one day soon). Here's the back:
Yeah, I sprang for it - and you know you want one now.

Lastly, Craig summoned me to try a demo driving game he downloaded on the PS3 this morning. It comes out for PS3 in January. I like driving games, and this one is really great. So I sat down and he told me what button did what - and as I began to drive - FAST - he was chuckling.


"Well, I asked you to come try it because I wanted to see if you'd do the same thing," he says, as I swerve into a head-on collision with another car.


"Drive on the left side."

"Oh. Shut up." And try as I might, I was huggin' that left. But I got lots of points for near misses.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

OK, OK...

Wow - "Anonymous" is anxious for a new post, and who am I to deprive you, A?

Let's see - much happenings in the Oki hood. Chronologically:

Last Thursday afternoon, the kindergarten classes were to go caroling at the BX (base exchange). Well, it rained. Hard. And so the powers that be changed the morning caroling session to be held at the cafeteria.

Yup, adorable. And the crew left to carol at the classrooms after the performance. The above shot is only Mia's class - there are 8 classes of give or take 25 kids each. Yes - 200 kindergarteners, just at her school! The movie of the songs (very cute) can be found here.

Thursday evening, I had dinner with the most of the amazing ladies of Okinawa Hai!
Such fun - left to right it's Julia, Julie, Kaho, Kelly, Meredith (YAY! My photography sister in arms), Joelle and Kim.
We ate at Mintana, great Italian place. YUM.

Friday evening there was a bingo night benefiting PIE (Partners in Education) at Mia's school. Mia quickly learned how to play bingo, and we all had fun even though we didn't win any prizes.
Here are the kids that were there posing with Santa who made a quick appearance.

Saturday afternoon the 7th Comm Battalion's holiday party was held up at the Palms near Craig's work (where we had our ball). I sure didn't expect pony rides...

As well as 2 bouncies.

Mia's old buddy (and one of a few crushes) Nicholas was there to keep us company (and help her to finish her broccoli so that she could eat one of those treats!).

Again - one busy dude, Santa showed up. Nicholas got back to the table and announced he would never wash his butt again.

Mia had a nice visit.
It was a blast, great food too!

Sunday I attended a cookie exchange party at Erin's house. (Lovely Erin - our photography assistant and party thrower extraordinaire - she was sick as a dog all week and still did it all!) I had to make 150 cookies. Yes. 12 1/2 DOZEN cookies, as did everyone else. Here's the result of 20+ women making 150 cookies: (oh yeah, there are more under the table & in the kitchen...)
My chocolate almond cookies:
Amazing hand-decorated wreaths:

At the end of the party, 4 winners were announced; most festive, tastiest, prettiest, and most adventurous. Though my batch wasn't elected for any of those, we went home with a huge box that looked something like this:since we had to take home at least 8 of each type of cookie! DANG. Yes - my counter looks like a holiday cookie buffet.

This week has been pretty relaxed so far; the Neathery family left for southern Cali on Wednesday morning, so I enjoyed a great last couple of days with Anne and Mia said a goodbye for now to her two local buds. We're feeding their turtles for them and they'll be in LA & San Diego, so we helped with the SD part! Not much going on this weekend besides prepping for Santa & the haps on Tuesday and enjoying time together while Craig's on leave. More soon!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Something I Love About Okinawa

No pennies. At the on-base places, if you buy something for $19.93, they give you a nickel back. I no longer have ANY pennies in my purse! Not only a good thing because pennies annoy me - but a good thing because I have to carry 2 different types of money around, and yen coins are big.

Now if we could just find a way to get rid of one-yen pieces I would be content. Oh well, one coin at a time.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Araha Beach

I know I posted about this back when we first arrived, but we went again this past weekend and it's just so neat. Mia loves this park at Araha Beach (aka "Pirate Ship Beach" for obvious reasons) - and this time when we went, she was up there with a crew of kids she had never met, leading the siege on the enemy; the moms & dads!


I got my car washed on Monday for the first time. YES YOU READ CORRECTLY! For the first time since we bought it in June! It rains. A LOT. And so Mother Nature kinda does it for you. And I keep a clean car (inside) so it wasn't THAT bad. But it was pretty bad, so I washed it. And as I did, I wondered why a. I hadn't done it sooner, and b. I hadn't brought Mia!

This is the car wash:
JUST a wash (this machine, no frills, no tire wash, no waxing, no interior) is $2. There are several washes in between, and a Premium Wash (which I sprang for cuz - ya know, it'd been 6 months and all) was $12. Plus a couple of dollars for a tip because that woman vacuumed up dirt that was probably in that car since its first year of existence, 1998.

A staff member guides you into the car wash, and the tire goes up against this little bump, and you are directed to fold in your side rear view mirrors, and put on the emergency brake. Then the blue 3/4 square brush, soap, and water machine proceeds to move back and forth slowly on the tracks as you sit inside. I realized that I would've been car sick had I not fixated on a point outside- you know when you're at a stop light and there's a big bus next to you that starts rolling forward but you think you're rolling backward and you stamp on your brake? Yeah - it's like that but all around you! Crazy. Mia would've DEFINITELY loved this experience of getting to stay in the car while the machine is going. She begged to stay in the car in San Diego at the wash (and WHAT ever happened to that anyway?? My dad used to take my brother and me to the car wash and we could sit in there while we rolled through and it was like a fun weekend thing to do! We LOVED it - they don't have that anymore I don't think.) - this is Mia's opportunity to be inside!

Anyway, after that you drive to the side, they wipe everything down, clean the tires, vacuum like crazy, and voila - sparkly clean Cube.

Here are Mia, Logan and Nikolas starting their houses at the gingerbread house making contest last Saturday evening. Nice surprise - we got to go chill for 2 hours while the kids played! I must do things like this more often. And of course, it involved lots of SUGAR, so the kids loved it and my kid was bouncing off the walls when we got home because she ate at least one hundred pieces of red stringy licorice.

The finished products:

We also attended a REALLY fun Hanukkah pot luck, where I met some fabulously friendly and fun MOTs (members of the tribe) here on Okinawa. It felt so comfortable and fun, and Mia played with friends the whole night as I kibbitzed with the yentas. And some really cute nice Jewish boys, I might add- I felt like I should set them up, but for sure not here! No pictures, it was shabbat and I didn't think the camera would be welcome.

I might have mentioned a while ago that they sake experience here is a bit different. Maybe some of you have eaten sushi at a restaurant that did this, but I experienced it again the other night and did some research to be able to show you this really interesting (and generous) ritual.

Tuesday night, Anne & I went to Sushi Zen down the street, and as we were perusing the menu, I ordered some cold sake (daiginjyo), which was served in the typical way. The server put down a cube-shaped wooden cup called a masu box, and placed a tall slender glass inside. She unsheathed a large green bottle (like picture a magnum of champagne) and started to pour, and when it got to the top of the cup, she kept going. The sake overflowed into the square cup until it too was filled. This is a gesture of generosity and hospitality.
So after you've drank what was in the glass, you drink what's in the masu box. Good night, Irene. We did eat some delicious sushi & sashimi too - I love this place. It's a 2-block walk away (hence the sake) and the owner lived in Queens, NYC for 25 years -he's awesome.

Flower roll (avocado/tuna/roe/deeeelish):
Hello, hamachi...

Nummy rolls.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

In The Car Yesterday

Craig: "Mia, who's the best Mommy and Daddy in the world?"
Mia: "What are my choices?"

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Tree That Almost Wasn't

Having grown up Jewish, I'd never had or decorated a Christmas tree. This changed when I was an adult, and I helped to decorate a tree or two. When Craig & I got together, we got a little "Charlie Brown" fake tree for Christmas time and put our presents there. And when Mia was 4, we bought a fake tree at Target. Craig wanted to give her the whole experience, just like he'd had it. I admit - it was fun - yet the whole experience was a little lacking because I'd never experienced it all as a child - only from the parent side. When Mia was 5, Craig was overseas for the 3rd time. I gave her Christmas since she'd remembered it from the year before; that's what a good wife I am. Pretty classic; a bunch of Jews decorating a tree the day after Thanksgiving (except our friend Nick who came over too - so thankfully we could have some guidance).

This year we bought a real tree for the first time. For several reasons; we left the fake one in storage, and thankfully so - we would have no place to store it here. Real trees are quite reasonable here - the 5 1/2' tree was $26!! Craig tells me (and I know) that's a STEAL. And if we're going to have one, I was a little excited to have a real one - piney smell, living thing and all. Though admittedly with my "brown thumb" I was nervous about that. Neighbors & friends here spoke of how their trees died after a week, but you have to get them fast because they arrive on one day - and then they're GONE.

So coincidentally, on the same day I picked up the gelt & candles from the Rabbi's office, I went to the outdoor store on Camp Foster to ask when trees would be coming. They informed me that on Saturday, December 1st, they'd be for sale, and the store opened at 9. I had a shoot that morning, so I told Craig to take Mia and pick up a tree. His deal anyway, so maybe it'd be fun! Thankfully he agreed without argument.

After my shoot I asked about the morning, and Craig said, "Wow, I'm REALLY glad we got there when we did. The tree was inexpensive, and we picked a nice one - but that place was crazy!"

Apparently he arrived home with the tree and our neighbor, Chuck, saw him and said, "Where did you get that!?"
"Go NOW, Chuck." Replied Craig as he brought the tree up the elevator, with "oohs" and "ahhs" from our hotel staff! Chuck returned with a tree for his family and for our neighbors' family and said there were 10 left when he went. And yes - that was the only shipment that would be coming. Kind of sad, really - I'm certain that not everyone who wanted a tree on this island got one - they were out of fake ones too. (Side note, I thought of an idea - if we had brought our tree, there's no way we could've found a place to store it with 3 small closets that are already full - how about a holiday tree- put up Valentine's Day decorations, Easter ornaments, 4th of July - you get the point! So you never have to put it away!)

So I helped him assemble it in the stand we're borrowing from Anne & Derek (they'll be in the states this holiday, so they didn't get a tree) and we got it up and fed it and watered it and the following day (Sunday) we decorated it while enjoying hot cocoa and we were happy.

Until I realized that it wasn't drinking. And after surveying the moms at the school bus stop, apparently those trees sit on ships for close to a month, and we need to have the bottom sawed off when we purchase it! Fabulous.

"CRAIG! You grew up on your grandparents' farm, they RAISE Christmas trees! How do you not know this!??"
"We always cut them fresh for people who picked them, why would I know that?"
"Well dang, you should've known better than ME... please buy a saw and I'll take off the decorations." Sigh.

Craig sawed an inch off the bottom of the slightly browning thirsty tree on Tuesday night. I added water and the 3 of us talked to the pretty tree and asked it to drink and stick around through the holidays. Thankfully, she listened and she's very happy now and drinking, I'm proud to say. Crisis averted!

When we first brought her home:

Mia & I began hanging garland:

Lights are in...

Ornament time - goofy girl:

Topped the tree!

One of my favorites I found 2 years ago:

Uncle Jake made, yes MADE this for Craig when he was overseas. It's so detailed & incredible. I cannot imagine the amount of cussing that probably happened over this little glass bulb.

One of my ornaments - Wendi gave it to me.

Got this at Cost Plus last year - I do love to bake!
Happy holidays, everyone! More on the latest holiday haps soon.