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.