Monday, December 19, 2011

Video season begins.

If you chase the link below you can find the daughter's christmas choir performance. I have edited it for watch ability.  It was orginally half an hour of video and it is down to 5 min.  I hope it is bearable.

Video link.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Great Room Renovation.

Great Room Renovation.:

3D model by Dunnetsan

Hopefully you have a chance to down load Sketch up and then take a walk through our latest renovation evolution. We are looking for opinions.  Click on the link at the top and it will take you to the google site where you can download it.  Please and thank you.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Washington Week

So we spent a week in Washington visiting my older sister and her husband recently.  It rocked.  They are living in Yakima which is actually closer to our new house than Vancouver.  Plus it has cheap shopping and gas.  Lots and lots of pluses to visiting. 

They are a short walk from tonnes of stuff and they get good weather.  Definitely an outdoor paradise.

You will notice the youngest is just freshly casted here.  In reflection it is so nice to have him back to his old self.  We left that foam soccer ball down there.  The house had tonnes of good toys and the children had an awesome time.  With the food and company and pets we all had a good time.  Plus they had enough rooms that the kids could sleep separately from their parents.  That was amazing. 
 Unfortunately they have weird gravity down there and my son couldn't seem to stay the right way up.

I am just realising now that we didn't get the dogs and Mia in the big group shot.  Major faux pas.  We will have to remedy that next time we are down.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Not gonna last forever.

So as long as the listing stays up here is the house we are in the process of buying.  Should be an interesting few weeks as the process roles along.  I don't think the link will be up forever but I also don't imagine I will ever come back and fix the link.  The Mrs and I are deep in the thinking process of some serious renovation ideas.  So this blog may evolve into a renovating blog.  Or maybe we will start a new blog.  Who knows.  Maybe gardeneatlive has run its course.  I have definitely lost the thread of this blog over the last year.  So we shall see.

Anyways, thanks for reading as always.  Stay tuned for more news.

Love out.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Last Days.

Well this is a little tardy but nevertheless here is the last days of our stay in Japan.  With the kids both not attending school we had some time to go out and do some day tripping.  One such day has us at a museum of war.  Kind of  a dark place.  Some nice gardens though.

Just so happens it was Cinco de Mayo.  We didn't take any pictures of the war memorabilia or the life size diaramas depicting war in all its gruesomeness.  The kids were thoroughly impressed by it, at some points they were actually scared.  Nice work parents.

 Three kilometers back from the War museum was another temple power spot.  So we stopped in, walked the stairs, made the offering and rang the bell.  We all made a guess as to how many steps there were.  The daughter was the closest.  The wife said she was fooled by a false landing. 

After the temple we stopped for a snack and then tried to find the onramp to the freeway.  The last month or so in Japan was marred by some extraordinarily bad luck or poor decision making in my driving.  So many back tracks it was insane.

Another day trip involved using the tickets to the flower festival we had purchased.  This was supposed to be a trip to take with my mom and her hubby when they came to Japan.  However, with the tsunami and earthquake happening two days before they were supposed to arrive the trip never happened.  But we decided to soldier on and see the festival any way.  Within half an hour of arriving it started to rain.  We ate our bento lunch under cover and then put on some rain capes and tried to take a look around. 

Within the hour we were wet and defeated and headed back home, once again making some major long cuts in an effort to save time and money (unsuccessful on both accounts). 

And with that our time was up.  We enjoyed the last couple of days hanging out with family and eating home cooked food.  Then it was off to the airport.  Some teary farewells and a grueling 17 hours later and we arrived in Vancouver at the same time and on the same day that we left.  It is nice to hear English all around but we really miss our Japanese family.  We hope to be back there soon.  If not to live then at least on an extended vacation.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Entertaining Guests.

They were both entertaining and entertained.  It was a good three days.

We had some friends from Niigata come and visit us this last weekend.  It was a Kagoshima whirlwind.  The day they arrived we also had two last days of school, one farewell party and one school viewing day.  So we divided and conquered.  Miraculously we all managed to get to the same hotel in the Kag at the same time.  We strolled through town and had dinner at an Izakaya.  Everyone was tired so we had an early night. 

The next morning we started with the main attraction, Sakurajima, the volcano. 
The ferry ride was a little cool but the view was super cool so that kind of made up for it.  I managed to make a wrong guess during one portion of our drive and we had to back track to get to our second destination.  This was the basic theme of the trip.
At the dinosaur park the daughter climbed this five meter t-rex to prove she could even though I said she shouldn't.  While sliding back down she got some painful fibre glass burns.  Yes I mentioned to her that I told her so.  So hard not to.
After the dinosaur park we hit up the free foot spa.  We had passed well into the lunch hour so the kids got pop to tide them over.  For lunch we headed back to kagoshima city and had black pig pork cutlets at pretty up scale place.  They were good but I think we all felt a little under dressed.
 We finished with the requisite picture with Saigo Takamori.  The big man of Kagoshima. That night they came back with us to stay in Ijuin.  It was a crowded house but we all made do and had a good time.  I made chili and pizza.  The mrs. contributed veggies and dip.  There was lots of beer.
The next morning we didn't rush out the door.  We took our time over breakfast and then we headed south for the requisite visit to the sand baths.  The daughter went in with the guests while I played with the boys at the beach and the Mrs. took some pictures.  However, she only took that one with ours.
 We made it back earlyish and had a great dinner of Kagoshima's traditional foods.  This of course included lots of beer.
 The last day we went and visited Miyama, a local pottery village.  If you have been following that is where the kids and I made our pottery.  We toured the grounds of a historic pottery making site.  Then one of our guests bought some shochu cups.  The original potters came to Japan from Korea so it was neat to see the Korean influences. 

After a great ramen lunch where the daughter finally got some gyoza (she was twice denied only earlier restaurant trips) we headed for the airport.
Our guests did some last minute omiyage shopping and then we said our farewells.  They made it back to Niigata safely. 

It was a busy busy four days but it was good to see them.

Love out.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Hello, Goodbye.

We are fully into the farewell season here.  Last Saturday we got together with some of the daughters classmates and their families.  Barbecue in the park.  It was great.  One of the families we have basically been trying to have a get together with for the last 8 months.  So it was nice to finally get together.  But a little disappointing that it took this long.  It turns out that the are big into camping.  Good to know for any return visits.  The food was good.  The weather was a little cold.  The kids had a great time.  It was one of those settings where they would run off and play at the park and then twenty minutes later a couple of them would run back for some food.  Then take off again.  This is the kind of family fun I have always dreamed off.  The picnic in the park.  A bunch of families, open ended eating and drinking and no one wants to go home at the end.  Loving my life right now.  Can't believe there are only two weeks left.  Dreaming about packing these days.  Sigh.

Love out.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Vacation Begins.

So we started our three week Japanese Vacation this weekend.  Really looking forward to having three weeks to spend with family and friends.  I am also looking forward to getting out and about in Kagoshima.  Amazingly no Jet Lag to start the trip.  Very lucky.

We had a great day on Saturday.  We got up early and were out the door before nine.  Our goal was Noma Dake.  The last interesting peak relatively close to our house.  After about and hour and 15 of pain and suffering in the car (two year olds just can't be reasoned with) we made it to the Noma Jinja, the inevitable temple most of the way up the mountain. 

We hiked for about forty five minutes from the temple to the top.  The view promised to be spectacular but then it reneged.  We were basically in the clouds.  It was muggy.  Summer has officially arrived in Kagoshima.  
 We didn't pack a lunch, just snacks, on purpose.  The plan was to get up and down before lunch and then hit a restaurant and an onsen.  Well the little guy was tuckered when we got to the bottom and promptly fell asleep in the car.  So we drove most of the way back home.  We stopped in Fukiage, known for its Onsen Baths.  It was the sage opinion of the Mrs. that to eat and then bath was foolishness.  So we drove around looking for a bath.  We stopped here.

 The place was deserted so the boys and I had our side to ourselves.  The pool was big enough for the older boy to try and swim in.  However, the water was hot and tasted of sulphur so he didn't make much head way.  The little guy, as usual, enjoyed getting in and out.  He also got a real kick out of turning the taps on and off.

Post bath I was fatally hungry.  We had a few minutes of indecision before settling on rice balls and assorted lunch stuff from a grocery store.  We stopped at a park and chowed down.  I gave the Mrs. the keys and had myself a nice big beer.  It was good.

Our last stop was a spot my Mother-in-law recommended.  It is one of her power spots.  It is a temple called Onamuchi Jinja.  The temple is your regular fare but the real reason to go is the trees.  Check out this monster the family is perched against.  It reminds us of the tree in "Tonari no Totoro" (Totoro next Door) by studio Ghibli.  It even has a little spot you could climb in and find a Totoro. 
This next picture shows how far back I had to go to get the sucker in the frame.
 After the tree we took turns drinking the magical temple water.  I got video.

Post temple we got back in the car and everyone kind of drifted off as the Mrs. drove us home.  Another fabulous Saturday and an excellent way to kick off our three weeks in Japan.  Lets hope the rest of our vacation is as exciting.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Breaking the Rules.

Recently I have been guilty of breaking the rules.  Twice in quite frequent succession.  Let me elaborate.

Last weekend there was a flower viewing party (read "cookout") at the neighbourhood park.  A bunch of the old guys I golf and play baseball with put it on ever year and so I bought some beer and shochu and took myself along.  It was a great time, lots of families and little speeches, I got to give a little farewell speech (very short).  However, I broke a major rule.  Never eat meat cooked by a half sober fifty five year old guy who is more interested in getting it out fast than making sure it is done.  I also broke the don't eat raw deer meat rule.  I mean everyone else was doing it so I figured it would be okay.  Now I am riding day four of some kind of stomach parasite.  Went to the doctor's today and I am now on medicine to clear things up and get my good bacterial juices flowing again.  Will I never learn.

The other rule I broke is for me much more interesting.  Last night as the family is all bedding down for the night I and trying to get the oldest boy to settle down.  So I tell him I am going to bundle him up in a cocoon.  He is a caterpillar and in the morning he will be a butterfly.  So our conversation turns to the whole business of becoming a butterfly.  What if its too hot in the cocoon? (helps the wings grow)  Then we talk about being able to fly.  At this point I think we are both on the same page.  I mean we are both imagining flying.  So we are talking about not having to walk places and stuff like that.  Then I offer up he could fly all the way back to Canada.  His response is no way, a plane is so much faster, however, he thinks he could fly up and ride on top of the plane on the way back.  I still think we are in the same ball park.  The he mentions that when we go to a hotel the next time he could fly up the stairs while we walk.  I top this with he could just go outside and fly up to the window.  To this he looks a little concerned.  Well we would have to have a signal.  So he could find the room.  He figures I should stick my arm out the window and wave.  I think about this and imagine the difficulty of trying to spot an arm.  So I offer back that we could flash the lights twice.  To me this is clearly a better option as it will show up clearly at night.  Once he sees the general vicinity of the window he can fly up and find us.  No he doesn't like this idea.  Then he offers up this cool blue light that he bought on our last road trip.  I figure this would work great it would be different and easy to see at night.  From here we move on and the conversation slowly peters out.  Then I am lying in bed thinking about our conversation.

I think we were in two totally different places.  I am thinking about the possibilities of flying in a totally abstract way.  However, to the boy, he is imagining himself with these wings, trying to do stuff like travel or find his family.  And at the time I didn't notice.  I was caught up in my own mental wanderings.  So when engaged with my children I need to try and be present in their frame of reference .  A rule I break far too often.

love out

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Kumamoto Road Trip

So we took a road trip this weekend to Kumamoto.  It is the prefecture directly above Kagoshima.  Our itinerary included Kumamoto Castle on the first day and Mitsui Green Land Amusement park on the second day.  Good times.

The first day was a lot of driving.  We left home around 10.  I was a little traffically challenged so we ended up taking a long cut, however we played at a cool park and had a nice lunch.  We finally got to the castle grounds around 3:30. 
 The cherry trees were in full blossom and it was a spectacular summer type day.  Well a warm Vancouver summer type day.  Definitely spring here in Japan.  We wandered through the grounds and then went into the castle proper.  The boys were more interested in chasing and being chased.  However, the daughter seemed to enjoy the museum aspect of the castle.  Some really cool history.  We really liked the lookout at the top of the castle.  Beautiful views and a lovely breeze.  The only picture turned out a little dark, sorry.

We left the castle around 5:30 and arrived at our hotel a little after seven.  Everyone was pretty beat but we had some dinner and a bath and got into our very small beds.  We had to take two rooms as there are officially five of us now that the baby is 2.  We got up the next morning and all had some buffet breakfast.  Then it was back in the car.  We bought some bento lunchy type stuff and headed for Green land.

It was a great day not a good day, a great day.  The kids and I got the all day pass and made the most of it.  The baby and I did lots of little kid rides while the older two, after getting over their initial fears, rode a bunch of the jet coaster rides as a pair.  When I rode with them there were some pretty scared faces but they always got off the ride wanting more.  The two oldest were able to spend some of their hard earned new years money.  The both bought stuff at the gift shops.  It was pretty painful pointing out all the stuff that they didn't have enough money to buy but in the end they both bought stuff that they were happy with.  The boy bought some geki ranger swords/quarter staff.  The daughter bought some key holders and other miscellaneous little stuff.  The shopping was really really important as they were using their own money.  Recently shopping has become a really big deal.  Stretching their wings I guess.  On the way home we stopped at a local restaurant and had some regular old Japanese food for dinner.  I drove the two and a half hours home, we arrived at about 10, and everyone pretty much went straight to bed.  Good times.

About a month to go in Japan.  The time draws near.

Love out.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Just keep rolling.

Well here we are again, fancy that.  I am back to the dinner pictures.  Mostly because I am having to wait my turn for dinner these days.  The table is packed. 

Last night we had the daughters favourite, Gyoza.  These were home made beauties thanks to my wonderful mother in law.  I fed my face in a serious manner and all the garlic in my system gave me a wild night.  My dreams were so vivid I felt like I was actually awake.  When I woke up I was slightly confused as it felt like I hadn't been asleep. 

On a different note I have been trying to catch the mother in law in action.  She is very camera shy.  Two nights ago I caught her with her fingers in the gyoza mix.

Tonight I was too slow and slipped away.

We are eating maki sushi this evening.  It looks lovely and I can't wait for a seat at the table.  People are gobbling it up.  I sure hope there is some salmon left by the time I get going.  In other news I went fishing with the father in law today.  The weather report was calling for 2.5 m waves but the day broke sunny and calm.  So we decided to go for it.  We went with another of his local fishing buddies.  Below is the picture of all the fish I caught.

No you aren't missing anything.  I pulled in a big fat goose egg.  Also the called for weather did arrive in the end.  Brutal.  However, I managed to keep all of my cookies.  It was a wild ride home but we made it safe and sound.  Hopefully I will manage to catch at least one more fish before we head back.  That is it for tonight.

Love out.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Can it be True.

Yes, yes I believe it is.  Two posts in two days.  I am actually posting about last nights dinner as I think two posts in one day would have been way over the top considering my recent out put.

So last night we had Yaki Niku.  Basically barbecued meat.  The big Teppan is set up in the middle of the table and then everything is fried up on it.  Whenever a piece comes ready someone picks it up and dips it in their bowl of dipping sauce.  Good times.

I, however, waited out the rush and sat and sipped my whiskey.  It is shochu whiskey but the really good stuff.  We were planning to take the parents on a tour of the factory when they were in town.  The sons best friends dad works there.  I am sure we will make it there someday.  Anyways, back to the whiskey, I sat there sipping while everyone else devoured.  It was very pleasant to stay above the fray.  I also got a bowl ready for this guy.

He had crashed out after a busy day of playing soccer in the park and watching videos inside.  The only problem is that he had done the in betweener crash.  You know, 4:30 ish.  Not going to be down for the night but if he sleeps until 8 then he won't be down again till twelve.  So I tried the gentle wake up.  No success.  He bawled until I got Anpan man up on the computer.  Then he sat in my lap to watch while he ate dinner.  Of course, when I closed up the computer it was back to bawling.  So I took him outside for walk around the neighbourhood.  Quiet again until we got back home and then bawled to keep going on the walk.  He eventually quieted down and I managed to stuff my face in the meanwhile.  We slept as a family for the first time in a long while last night.  It was nice.  Until I woke up sandwiched by the two oldest with the little one having been just barely squeezed out by the boy.  I look longingly over at my wife who slept unmolested on a futon of her own.  Ah the good old days.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Back on the Horse.

Wow did I ever fall off the life wagon there.  The last two weeks have been kind of blurry.  I think I am still dealing with the sudden change in expectations.  Sort of having to mentally get back on tracks after all our plans came off the rails.  Also we have been dealing sick people and injuries so nothing has really been business as usual.  However preceding all this craziness we had some good times.  First up is the oldest boys final field trip of the year.  I start with some video of me and the littlest going down a slide together.  In the video I am totally oblivious to the fact that my son has a broken arm.

Good times (the sliding, not the broken arm).  I didn't get many candid shots as my hands were full with the two boys and no Mrs.  (her day off, this was the first day of the daughter having the flu so she stayed home to tend to the sick).  I did manage to get one group shot and one shot of the rest of the parents.  Amazingly I on the odd occasion I actually feel like I fit in with this group.

This is the latest birthday picture.  The cute little toddler/preschooler you all remember turned fourteen.  Holey smoke.