Thursday, December 18, 2008

Mia at the Yomitan Starbucks

Photos taken by Craig, edited and compiled by Aviva. Funny faces provided by Mia. (Who also has a very loose top tooth as you might notice due to the much larger gap in her mouth.)

More Mia Goodness...

About 10 days ago, Mia missed the bus. First time ever. I was convinced it must have left early because I send her outside in plenty of time to get there - the bus leaves at 8:15. She came back in the door at 8:17 and said she had missed the bus. WHAT? That bus must have left early.

"Did you even SEE the bus?" I asked as I pulled on pants and shoes to drive her to school.
"No, it was gone."
"Were there grown-ups still standing at the bus stop? Did they tell you the bus left?"
"Yeah, Pierce's mom told me it was gone."

I was still confused because she was back so soon after the bus should've left - so I guessed it had left early and drove her to school.

This morning Craig was getting ready and Mia was about to eat cereal, and Craig said, "Oh - did Mia tell you why she missed the bus that day??"

You can imagine the expression on my face.

"Yeah - there were some Japanese tourists out there that wanted to take her picture. They asked her and she said, "Hai!" and was busy being a little paparazzi hound for the tourists. That's why." He turns to Mia, "Sorry I dimed ya out, kid."

She looked at me and grinned sheepishly and let a little laugh out.. like, it's all good, right? Bygones....

I admit, it was hard not to laugh. But next time, she's gonna walk to school on her own. Gotta love living in a hotel!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Heard This Past Weekend

Craig: Mia, why are you such a slow eater?
Mia: Daddy... I'm not a slow eater, you just need to be more patient.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Mia Playing Piano

I'm quite sure we'll do better, but here is a preliminary short video from the 5D Mark II of Mia playing piano. (Which frankly is just as impressive.)

I miss my blog. I will return...

Friday, November 28, 2008

So Very Thankful

Hi, gang. I'm hoping you'll let me slide this blog back on like a comfy sweater from last winter.... ok? Yesterday was Thanksgiving here in Oki. And I celebrated with local family, much as we did last year. The Neatherys have left to move back to the states, but life does go on. We celebrated at Val & Cat's house down at the end of our block. No - not two women who live together, two families who live next door to each other and have taken out the glass panel between their balconies so that we can roam freely between TWO apartments! Killer setup for a big party with 4 little kiddos.

First, a shot of our kiddo before we left the house. She's playing on my iPhone - a fishing game. How long-legged and giant is she now? I can't believe this is my kid.
I made stuffing, a home-made (no cans) green bean casserole, and my famous fruit coffee cake. We headed to Val's and as we entered, the smell of the perfectly cooked turkey wafted up my nose and made me giddy. Here she is carving. I don't THINK I drooled on the turkey. Too much.
I looked over and saw Guiness, their dog, watching closely for a dropped morsel.
Kinda brought back memories from 2006 at the Kollegian home in Carmel Valley...

Chris popped open some champagne.... gotta love that.

Sweet nectar...
The hors-douvers spread... and some coconut/butterscotch/chocolate bars. Who says you can't start with dessert?
The ladies...
(Myself, Cat, Val - Val is the one I went to Kyoto with.)

The guys - Craig and Nate (Cat's hubby). And Val in the background grinning while carving.
Maddie (AKA "Wormy") running into Cat's apartment through the open balcony.
The spread...
And THE TURKEY. Mmmmm.... I can still taste the juicy goodness....
Hostess #2, Cat. (She made crazy awesome mashed potatoes, a leg of lamb - she's Australian - and apple pie among other things...) Isn't she a classic beauty?
Her daughter, Victoria, in Tinkerbelle regalia.
And Guinn-Dog. Wearing a St. Patrick's necklace, if you can spot the green. He is a sweet & handsome devil.
After the feast (they made me put down my camera while I ate...), the ladies all grabbed their cameras. There is a REASON the three of us work so well together. HELLO - Canon 5D..
And Canon 40D... (and possibly one of my favorite portraits of you, Val... even though there's a camera in your face)
Some fruits of our after-dinner-shoot-out. George, Cat's other kiddo:
Wormy girl:

And of course, my kid being a goofball with Victoria.
Last one - I felt I had to make up for lost weeks of photos... This is just so sweet!
All the photos are here. Hope your holiday was happy!!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

233rd Marine Corps Birthday Ball

Thanks, Val - for sitting for Mia and for taking a couple of photos. The results were good - I just am not sure when I started growing neck fat. Anyway... the kid hopped in this one, and my hair was a little less crazy due to the tornado-like winds on our roof!

My hubby was oh so handsome and much more comfy in his new mess dress. That made for a better night all around!

Here's a quick shot of my friend Sarah and I getting our groove on. She's good people, and she's leaving me in January. Sniff.
I know. Bad blogger. Very very BAD. I have so much to update here, and never any time. I'm going to Kyoto in a couple of days and hope to share photos with you of the amazing fall foliage and maybe catch a glimpse of a geisha. Here's hoping! (Heck - here's hoping I can post Mia's birthday photos from OCTOBER, hello!)

Commence throwing rotten produce. I still love you.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

LOVE this.

Thank you Creme de la Mode - for this funness...

Make your own MUPPET!

That might even be worth $90...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Construction Worker

Just THINK how much money we'd save if we stopped paying that one guy to wave traffic by. If we just made these guys:
His right arm swings back and forth with a light on the end so that from a little way back you can see there's a lane closure ahead. I'd bet his arm never gets tired!

Thanks to Val for the photograph; I was driving.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Because the Lizaldes Deserve Their Own Post

I linked this in the last post, but HERE is the post about the event from Edith herself.

We are always thinking about you 3 - MWAH MWAH MWAH!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

This blog gets neglected...

when things get busy. Sorry.

I have photos of a pottery village trip, the incredible Naha tug-of-war, and some amazing dive shots from my trip to the keramas. But right now, I'm working on the stuff I get paid to do - and my paying clients would be less than thrilled if I didn't have their stuff done on time so that I could be posting my personal stuff.

It's coming! Promise! While you wait... 2 stories.

I just had to call the housing agency to have a maintenance person come out. He came today to fix a broken drawer and look at a couple of things. When he was finished, he commented on our piano. I asked, "Do you play?"
"Skoshi..." (a little).
"Please, sit!" I turned on our digital piano - which, I might add, even this guy agreed was pretty good for a digital jobber.

He just played me the most gorgeous song, almost without error. Wow! Now that's not something that would ONLY happen in Okinawa - but it's rather unusual to have a housing maintenance guy sit and play an intricate Japanese song for you on your piano.

The second story - Mia of course. She is miss INDEPENDENT now, and walks to the bus on her own in the morning and then home again in the afternoon. It's about 1 1/2 blocks up the road, and it's really not a big deal - but last week it was raining one day and I went to grab her. She got off the bus with a scowl, and said, "Why are you HERE?" Uh - because I figured I'd bring a raincoat for ya so you wouldn't get soaked. You're welcome! Jeez.

So a couple of nights later, Craig remembered what happened and said, "Mia - why don't you want Mommy to come to the bus stop to pick you up sometimes? You used to love that."

She thought for a minute and said, "Well - because I can do it myself. And I can do stuff I can't do with you when you walk with me."

"Like what?"

"Well.... " long pause, "Like petting the doggies and kitties on the way home." (Dogs, whatever, but the ferile cats out there?! Yikes. But hey, she was honest, right? We got a good laugh out of it.) Thankfully the cats mostly run off before she can reach them anyway.

Ok, I had enough time to edit photos from the dive trip.

And I wanted to share this story on Athena's blog. She's a photographer in Hawaii (a very talented one and you should call her if you're there because she rocks) and she helped us do something very special for a very special friend. I can't wait to hear Edith's take. Thanks, Athena!!

Have a great day - PHOTOS SOON - I'm not going to promise, because I have FOUR shoots to edit for work and my personal stuff comes last - but you know, soon. And I just planned a 3-day trip with a girlfriend to KYOTO in November for changing leaves. I can't WAIT!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Bear With Me - I Must Confess...

What a night. You get to read the story. Because I feel like it will somehow help (yep, selfish).

Last month at the OIWC meeting, the Japanese side board President invited the group to a concert being held in October. A Russian Orchestra. I was intrigued and interested. I really wanted to take Mia and Craig and also thought of my friend Annya since she is Russian, but it ended up that didn't work out (not really part of the story). Point is - YES YES I WANT TO GO! I signed up for 5 tickets. Besides - they were FREE!

Yesterday was the OIWC monthly luncheon, and a woman came and found me with an envelope with my 5 blue tickets. But Annya and her family had hopped a flight to mainland and I needed to give away two tickets. So I called my friend Elizabeth. She and her hubby are kidless, and that way we could all go without needing another ticket. She & her hubby were into it! YAY! Going to a concert, how fun. So this morning I gave her the tickets, and we talked about what to wear and when to be there - it was down in Naha at 7, so we were going to leave early. As it turns out, it was a really windy & rainy night - so it was a good thing we had that plan.

I gave her directions and we said we'd call when we were close. We left our house a little bit before 6. As we were about to get on the expressway, Ebeth called me. "We passed the exit on the expressway and now we're lost." They had a map, I had a map, and we tried to figure out the situation. But she hadn't eaten and was thinking they might need to stop for food. But they didn't want to be late. At about 6:30 we had gotten off the expressway at our exit and were in parking lot traffic. UGH.

So now Ebeth is calling me with her tales of woe about being lost. And just a little side note folks... being lost in Okinawa at night in the rain is horrendous. You don't know what direction you're going, ALL THE SIGNS ARE IN JAPANESE, and the routes aren't marked and you can't really stop and ask for directions. I took pity on her and held my map as Craig sat in the driver's seat - butt aching from sitting in traffic. Mia had a book and a new book light (thanks, Grandma!) so she was set thank goodness, but now it's 6:45 and she's getting antsy (aren't we all).

Finally things were looking up. I could tell from our map & where we were driving that we were close. Ebeth & Dean had finally FOUND 330 and were headed in almost the right direction - they'd passed their destination but they were going to turn around. We were both STILL in awful traffic, I might add. Now Mia's whining, Craig is squirming and saying things like, "This had better be awesome..." and we FINALLY see what we're looking for! The Naha Civic Hall! Like a beacon in the night.

"TURN HERE, Babe! This is IT!" I'm on the phone with Ebeth when we find it and as we can't see where to go to park, I tell her, "I'll call you back - just turn around and make a left on 222!"

Suddenly I realize. It's dark. NOBODY is driving around the hall. There's lots of traffic, but there are no people at all by this thing... what gives? Then Craig asks, "Are you sure it's tonight?" I pull my tickets from my purse.

"Yeah - tonight's the 6th!"

"It's the 7th."

Wow. I've never been quite so sorry that my daughter was in the car. Maybe it was a blessing because I would've woven a tapestry of obscenities that as far as we know would still be hanging in space over Lake Michigan. I picked up my cell phone.

"Ebeth. You're gonna hate me."
"Oh no...what?!?!"
"It was last night."
"No! You're lying! No it wasn't!"
Then Dean starts saying, no, screaming exactly what I wanted to say in the background. They have skipped dinner and spent the last hour and a half LOST for heaven's sake!

I felt awful. Still do. I am filling out an I'm Sorry ecard in addition to the mea culpa here in print. I suck. And the worst part is - besides having to drive HOME in that same traffic - that my husband and kid, dressed nicely and dealing with the forever ride for the payoff and I - we didn't get to see the show. And it's not like it's tomorrow- it's over.

So - don't shed a tear. Go ahead and laugh at me. But I am definitely bummed and sorry. And very happy that this is NOT typical of Aviva. Never ever again!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Don't Vote.

Ok - I know it's UK YouTube - but I couldn't figure out how to make the stupid thing come up in ENGLISH on my Japanese IP computer.

PLEASE VOTE. This is funny.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

We Interrupt This Blog For A Rainbow Photo...

The NEXT post will have the rest of the photos from our trip up north.

This morning I was on my way home from the gym and saw the biggest brightest rainbow I'd ever seen. It had gotten significantly lamer by the time I ran upstairs and ran back down with my camera, but I felt the need to capture the rainbow - and with it, the amazing mural that Derek painted on the sea wall the day before the Neathery fam PCSed.

Thanks for leaving us with this masterpiece, Derek.... this won't be the last photo I take of your work of art. I already have some creative ideas...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hi There, I'm Aviva!

Yeah, I figured you thought I'd forgotten about this blog - but I haven't! Bear with me.

Catch up time - things are good. Busy with work. Craig's fine. Mia's working hard in school and playing piano, I'm thinking she might try out for swim team but not if she isn't into it. We're using weekends to do some exploring despite the fact that it's still hot as blazes outside. But when the typhoon winds aren't blowing, it makes for amazing skies... as you can see from our recent trip up north to Hiro's Coffee Farm!
About 1 1/2 hours' drive north is this little gem. I read about it on Okinawa Hai! and had to see for myself. What a hidden little paradise for the coffee lovers!

What.... I said farm, right? There were chickens. Mia was fascinated. This guy was just hanging out under our table. Very friendly, even when Mia decided to pet it.

Now just MENTIONING Mia petting chickens reminded me of this:

Pardon the quality - they're screen shots from an album on Kodak gallery from October of 2004 at Bates Nut Farm in Valley Center (aka "Nate's Butt Farm"). That is Mia. Carrying a chicken. A poor defenseless small and fuzzy chicken. Who, surprisingly, did NOT peck her eyes out. Many of you reading this blog didn't know Mia when she was 3, so here she was - in all her long-haired cuteness.

Onward to Mia (and BOTH Craig and I!) in the present day! Enjoying our time at Hiro's Coffee Farm. Hiro himself took this shot - he offered, and as he took my camera he lifted it with a surprised face and said, "Whoa, big camera." No kidding.

We got macro tubes. For those who don't know, these are cylinders that attach between the camera body and the lens that extend your focal length. It allows you to focus in to details of things MUCH closer (like flowers, bugs, water droplets...) - so we experimented, and I think these are quite nice.

One of my favorite flowers - particularly for its incredibly delicious smell - the plumeria.

Of course the Hibiscus.

And some bouganvilla.
Here's the kid with her dad. She enjoyed a couple of cookies and an OJ while we downed a fantastic mug of iced coffee. (as you can see here, Craig's is already empty)
The inside ceiling was lined in burlap coffee bags.
Here's the menu. We knew to bring a cooler with lunch food because there's not much food on the menu here... but that was quite alright with us. Mmmmm...

We bought a small bag of freshly roasted beans from Hiro, and he brought it in this cute paper sack. Craig snapped this interesting shot, I'm pointing out a photo in a magazine to Mia in the background.
This is a milk canister as far as I can tell (or cream). I just thought it was cool.
Here are some young seedlings. Hiro told us that the 1000 plants he harvests from on his farm are 20 years old.
Here are some new young beans on a 10-year-old plant:
Neat, huh? And here is Hiro with Mia & Craig. What a sweet man, very appreciative - and definitely doing some good business. By the way, we tried the coffee this morning - and it's fantastic. Though the atmosphere up north while sipping iced java on a hot day is EVEN better.

A few more photos from the nearby beach to come - soon, I promise - more of Mia (for you, Mom) because I know it has been a while!

Friday, September 12, 2008

It's Getting A Little Sad Outside...

The Neathermove has been happening all day. (Here you go, Kenny - a visual!)

It's all a bit too real. They'd better be seriously ready for me to be using my Vonage line to call them while they're in the states. Hopefully I'll remember the time difference. And yeah, their stuff is filling those trucks. It's amazing watching Japanese movers work. I'm rather bummed I missed them carrying the mammoth dining room table down the stairs.

No typhoon... SIGH. Some wind, some rain. I'm hoping we see more rain.

Off to get some cleaning supplies, not sure what's up tonight. Our plans were canceled because of the possible typhoon. Maybe some Wii bowling is in order....

I Couldn't Forget

It's 9/12 in Okinawa now. But still 9/11 in the states - most importantly in NY and VA. I recalled my experience on 9/11 with my mother on the phone yesterday and she recalled hers. My folks live in NJ, my father works in NYC.

Seven years ago (wow... seven years) I was 9 months pregnant, living in Escondido, bummed I'd be missing my brother's wedding in NJ because I couldn't fly out for it, and waking up and making breakfast. I turned on the television and for some weird reason it was on Univision, the Spanish channel. So when it came on, I saw the image of a tower on fire - but with Spanish words & subtitles going I thought it was a new movie promo.... sadly, that was not the case.

As I changed the channel and it started to register, my phone rang. It was my mom's best friend calling from Calabasas, CA. "Your mom & dad are fine - but you won't be able to get through on the phone for a while most likely..." and it all started to register as I watched plane #2 go into the second tower live on TV. I'll never forget that moment. Neither will my poor father, who watched it from his workplace window across town in NYC.

I'm thankful that those of the people I know in my home state and in the DC area (my brother-in-law had a meeting at the Pentagon that day) are all well. There are stories, but they have happy endings. Many don't. Nobody can forget that day - that day where we all gathered around our televisions with tears in our eyes with the realization that things would never be the same. Certainly for our military family. And for my then unborn baby.

A lot of memorials and truces are called in the US today, including a day off of campaigning for our Presidential candidates. As my friend Nick aptly put it, "Some might see these yearly memorials as sappy. I sure hope not. I, for one, am still angry. It still pains me. I truly hope that we never forget. I know I never will. "

Thursday, September 11, 2008


(meant to sound like that trumpet of disappointment)

The bad news is we will probably get some wind and rain, but not a direct hit from a typhoon. The GOOD news is, maybe tomorrow's photo shoot is still on! And maybe we won't be locked in our house so I can still have a fun weekend. Maybe.

But seriously, you'd think the worst storm in history was going to hit if you saw the commissary yesterday - dang, people. You might get stuck at home for a day.... not a month. And if you're power goes out it won't be for long. Just charge up the cell phones, the PSPs and DSes and chill - we live in the concrete jungle, we'll be ok.

I'm disappointed. Oh well.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Nothing For A Year

...and today I get 5 emails and a phone call about this:

Potential category 3 on Friday... HA. Of course, on the weekend. DOH. I can't help but think my "I DON'T THINK..." in this post had something to do with this....

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Hi there, Stranger.

Well - the biz has launched. And thankfully between that and some other commitments - I'm busy. But I miss blogging, dangit! So here I am. There WILL be photos of a recent trip up waaaaay north with 3 new photog friends. We had a very good time and I'm happy to say that with the 2nd of a few photog friends leaving this week (sniff), and a 3rd on her way in December - I'm VERY happy to find others I'm having fun shooting with.

So. More on that when I get to editing those photos after the paid stuff is done. (My priorities are in the right place.)

I saw something on Jasmine Star's blog that made me want to give it a shot. Humor me. (The stuff in caps is there, but I fill in the rest.)

I AM … a thirty-something mom, wife, daughter, and friend.
I WANT… a healthy family and an endless supply of sushi.
I HAVE … an adoring amazing hubby and a kid, parents, and friends that support me and love me. I'm lucky.
I KEEP … sentimental crap that I should probably throw away. Sigh.
I WISH I COULD … fly. Wouldn't that be cool? Or just put more hours in a day - or make it so that eating everything you wanted wouldn't make you gain a pound. I'm working on that.
I HATE … mean people.
I FEAR … large hairy spiders and death. I don't want to die before I can enjoy every bit of this life.
I HEAR … my husband playing the drums with his fingers and my daughter reading out loud.
I DON’T THINK … we're going to get a typhoon this year. (HA, see? I want one so I figured I'd make that prediction.)
I REGRET … not having more time with my grandparents.
I LOVE …so many things... the smell of Mia's hair and how it feels to hug her, being in my husbands arms, going out to eat with my family or friends and laughing and talking and laughing. And I love taking pictures.
I AM NOT … a reader. I want to be. But I'm a skimmer now - I don't have the patience. I miss books.
I DANCE … when great 80's or 90's music comes on and makes me think of high school and college days.
I SING … in the car. All the time. And every other chance I get.
I NEVER … thought I'd be living in Okinawa!
I RARELY … exercise. But that's about to change (more on that later).
I CRY WHEN I WATCH … ok, this list is very long - any sad movie, long distance commercial, my kid do something grown-up, weddings, babies being born....
I AM NOT ALWAYS … good at being politically correct and sensitive. I have strong opinions.
I HATE THAT … time is going by so fast I feel like it's zooming. Stop!
I’M CONFUSED ABOUT … investments. I want to be a grown-up, but I don't know anything about the stock market or mutual funds or any of that. Thankfully Craig does.
I NEED … (technically food, water, sleep and that's it... but, it's ME we're talking about) a Canon fisheye lens, about 5 more hours in a day, more live music, a bigger external hard drive, and a clothes shopping spree.
I SHOULD … spend more time playing with Mia. When I do it - I love it.

Well, that was fun. Try it if you like.

In other news, Craig shaved his head. He said he'll let me take a picture tomorrow. I'm NOT used to it, and I hope he'll grow back what little there was. It's surprising that shaving off a small amount of hair makes that much of a difference in the way he looks.

He told me over the phone, and I didn't tell Mia - so when he walked in the door from work and took off his cover I heard, (........silence) "What happened to your hair, buddy?!?" Who IS this kid?!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Keramas Dive

What a great holiday weekend topped off with a trip to the Keramas for three dives. WOW. There's really not much more to say.

Just some to SHOW....

There are more, but I MUST SLEEP.

Anne being zen at the bottom of the ocean.

I borrowed my new buddy Val's Canon PowerShot with its dive case, and had a bit of photographer fun under the water today! (I'm SO getting one now. With a flash diffuser - that would've made a huge difference.) Here are some clown fish protecting their anemone. (LOTS of that going on down there...)

Lots of giant clams to see.
How many clown fish do you count?
Do you see it? look closely and you can see its EYE.....
It was a really large octopus! I was rather impressed with myself for spotting this one.

One of my buddies, Kicker, found this little moray and played with him for a moment.
But - on the 3rd and last dive, I had one of my dreams come true. I swam with CRUSH! (aka, a giant sea turtle) Here's Anne having a look and a pet - they were so docile and really didn't care that we were there.

Anne's camera (the new waterproof to 10m Olympus point & shoot with a case that has a flash diffuser) is amazing and she got some mind-blowing shots today!

Not the least of which was this one. Which will definitely be framed on my wall. THANKS, Anne! And thanks for an amaaaaaaazing dive day, Kicker, Snuff, Brandon, Karen, Anne & Derek.