Monday, April 30, 2012

Serious Construction and Party Time!

So, when we moved in, we quickly noticed we were the only house without a slide or some fancy play toys in the back yard. Our daughter was saying "slide, slide" every time we stepped outside. So, I asked my husband if we could build our kids a fort with a slide. He said yes! After a couple weeks of work, we finished just in time for our son's 5th birthday party...

Though we did not realize we would not be able ro find a slide in Japan. And nobody will ship one to an APO address. So, if you plan on doing any type of project like this, I highly recommend first scoping out the supplies at your local hardware store or lumberyard. (Also, get approval from your housing management, which we did.) We had no idea that plywood in Japan is sold in 3' x 6' pieces rather than the standard 4' x 8' sheets in the US. Oops! This made for lots of extra cutting, extra seams and extra difficult piecing together. But, we did it! And really very little wasted wood, as the scraps made up the roof (since it would be covered anyway.)

Of course we had to add the pirate flag for the party, which was a complete success. (Incase you were wondering, our neighbor boy friends were all gone for the weekend, so we had 8 little girl friends and 1 other boy in attendance.;)

And all the neighbors keep asking us to make them a fort too. ;). Thanks Grandpa for drawing up the plans!


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Yochien, Japanese Kindergarten

Yochiens are Japanese schools for ages 3-6. Unlike the typical short American preschools and kindergartens, here kids are picked up by a bus 5 days a week from around 8:30AM - 2:30PM. Most serve a Japanese lunch, participate in many activities like field trips, music, swimming, and other aerobic type classes along with art and writing lessons. Discipline is very relaxed as Japanese prefer children to learn to work things out on their own. Here is the bus we were greated with our son's first day of school...

The kids also all wear uniforms...

The schools like to keep everything safe and comfortable feeling, so most of the buses are some type of animal or train, and many of the schools are covered with similar friendly artwork. Here is another bus our school had the second week...

The majority of teachers working at the Yochiens only speak Japanese, so it is an excellent opportunity for American children to learn Japanese. I was a bit concerned about the language barrier, but our son, as well as the other Americans who attend Yochiens, seem to have no trouble following along, and quickly learning many Japanese words and phrases. The school we chose does have one woman working in the office who speaks enough English to translate notes coming home and communicate with parents. We feel privileged that our son is getting this wonderful opportunity, and most importantly, enjoying it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Computer-less Progress...

Unfortunately no progress on my computer due to the lack of that type of support on base (though there is a Windows guy.) Fortunately I have discovered Blogsy for mobile blogging, and will be attempting to continue the blogging again right away.


Friday, April 13, 2012

Technologically Stuck!

That's right, having problems starting up my computer. So, I am sorry I cannot add photos at this time. Our son did just survive his first week of Japanese preschool/kindergarten and really enjoy it, so I'll get pics up of his cute uniform and cat-shaped bus as soon as I can get the problem fixed. Hopefully soon!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

Most US bases have an Easter Egg hunt for the kids.  Luckily it was another beautiful day outside, and we got to participate in one here.,,
 And like always,  wishing they could jump in the water...
Mommy with the kids
Daddy with his little princess
Wishing you all a Happy Easter as well!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Sakura Season: In Full Bloom

We were so happy to all get out together to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom today, just before another rainstorm.  Here is the Kintai Bridge, and our children dressed up for the special occasion...

Friday, April 6, 2012

Swim Class Surfing...

As a family of surfers, we put great importance on our children learning to swim.  Our son by age 4, has become very comfortable in a swimming pool.  Now we have continued lessons to improve his stroke form.  Here we got the pleasure of working with a Japanese swim instructor.  They do private lessons, so they use lots of "tools" to get children focused on proper technique.  Our son was having a bit of trouble with his front crawl stroke, so the instructor pulled out a surfboard to work on his paddle.
...And the paddling turned out to be a whole surf lesson.  Woohoo!  Unfortunately as summer approaches, it is harder and harder to get lessons as the demand is so great.  So we're stuck without lessons for the time being, but I will at least try to get in the pool with the kids until we get "real" lessons again or hopefully get to a beach!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Spring Brings Flowers, Water, and a Castle!

Today we finally all had a day off, so got out for an adventure.  Luckily there was no rain so we walked a mile and a half up to Iwakuni Castle.
Our family in front of the castle
Here is the view looking down from the castle...
Along the way we got to see lots of new spring blossoms and interesting water features...
This is a video I took of one of the interesting water routing systems they have on the hill climbing up to the castle...
Here is water coming down a pipe with cups to drink it.

Here are photos of another similar water feature...

We were even able to capture the start of Sakura (cherry blossom) season...

Down the hill from the Castle was this beautiful pond structure...
On the way out, we got to see a beautiful park and fountain, which our children could not resist.

(We had to hold our daughter so she wouldn't jump in.)  They both still got their shoes wet.

Then we walked over to the river and couldn't resist putting our toes in the sand...

Hopefully we will have the time to go back next weekend to see the blossoms around the bridge in full-bloom before they all fall.

We are quite thankful for the warming weather and beautiful sunshine.