Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Happiest Place On Earth!

 So we just got back from an amazing week at Disneyland, Sea World, and Universal Studios with my (Emily's) side of the family. It was a blast, and we can't wait for Thanksgiving and Christmas when we will see our fam again. We miss them already! We will let the pictures do the talking this week.

Getting all ready for Grizzly Bear Rapids at California Adventures. Mom is so wise and brought us all ponchos...not that they really did any good, but at least we looked semi-cool.

My crazy hubby and Sarah Palin (aka Mom with glasses)

Michael is...nervous?

All the girls had floppy hats. Mine was a bit too floppy, so I was so clever and used a pen to keep it out of my face. It ended up looking like a sombrero though...kinda weird.

Michael stylin the floppy hat.

Apparently, I am most like Alice. This is a big change from the last five years of trying to be most like Belle. Usually, I end up with Lady (like from Lady and the Tramp...yeah, not even a human)

Mom and Anna on Dumbo

Me and Dad on Dumbo

Car crash! Michael and Sarah look incredibly calm for such a tragic wreck...but I adore Anna's face in this picture.
The San Diego temple. We tried to go, but they were closed for two weeks for renovations. Then we tried the Newport Beach temple...also closed. So we are headed to Portland this Saturday.

Sea World. This was such a magical place for me. I'm not sure James really loved it as much as I did, but I would love to go back and spend days there.

Getting ready for the Shamu show.

This picture is significant because last time I went to Sea World, I wasn't able to sit in the soak zone because I had a cast on my leg from running through a glass door. I was so thrilled to be in the soak zone this time...and oh boy, we got soaked!

Completely magical!

Dad's big surprise - a swim with the dolphins. Here he is in his wet suit getting ready to get in the freezing cold water. He was so cute - just like a little kid on Christmas. Anna was thrilled for him too.

Dad giving the dolphin a high-five.

Dad hugging the dolphin.
So we went to Universal Studios a day after we finished in Disneyland. I asked Jess to make her "How do you feel about Universal Studios" face and this is what we came up with. Lame. Totally lame. Not a magical place.

How many monkeys does it take to buy Jess a soda?

This and the Jurassic Park ride were the only things worth doing at Universal Studios. This ride was only fun because Michael got to watch contraband episodes of the Simpsons through the whole line. We were never allowed to watch that show as kids.

No, Michael is not sweating profusely. He and Jess and I went on the Jurassic Park ride three times in a row and got completely soaked. Think of Splash Mountain on steroids...with hilarious tourists that can't understand enough English to know there is an 80-foot drop and tidal wave coming just around the corner. Hilarious.
Jess and her Brother Husband...yeah, I didn't get a picture with MY hubby in front of the castle. I guess they figured this was enough :)
The Lego store. 

James's birthday gift from both me and his mom was a new Lego set. He declined twice, saying it was a waste of money and that he didn't need it.

But that all changed, and this is him right now as I write this post. Gotta love him!
We start right back into work and school tomorrow. Hope everyone has a great week. Love to all our family and friends!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

To the Most Magical Place on Earth!

What's more magical than Disneyland? Well, maybe Disneyland on your birthday! I'll come back to that thought in a second...

So Emily successfully finished her first term of graduate school. I'm so proud of her and very glad. Although it was a short term, it was very mentally demanding on top of a new area, new people, and finding jobs. Life in Eugene is starting to really feel like we've been there for a while, which is nice; we've made some friends and everything! To celebrate the end of a term and the successful transition to Oregon, we are going to Disneyland!

We left right after Emily got out of class and I finished work and spent a few days in the Bay Area with my family. By tonight, we'll be in southern California getting ready for a week full of magic! 
While visiting my parents, my mom had bought some monster Lego sets for Halloween. Between Bo (brother-in-law), Chase (nephew), and I, we made them all. 

Pictures don't really do the sets justice... They are pretty cool and have some sweet things they do.

We've been really bad at taking pictures this week, but I'm sure we'll have plenty of pictures next week. Sorry for the short post, but not a whole lot has been going on. We love you all lots and hope that you will enjoy the next week as much as we will!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Ode to Japan

This is a blog post that I wrote a while ago before we left Japan and never published. Those of you who have been to Japan will probably appreciate this more than others. Enjoy!

Things I will definitely miss about Japan:

Sauce katsu-don
Our sweet branch, especially the Relief Society sisters
My beautiful bike. We've been through a lot together.
Surprisingly enough, my toaster oven. I've grown rather fond of it.
Rice cookers, washing machines, buses, etc. that play music rather than obnoxiously loud beeping sounds
The greenery in the Aizu area - it's like a jungle!
Amazing service that I really want to tip but can't because it is socially unacceptable
Everyday language challenges like asking for the bathroom, ordering food, asking directions, etc.
My monthly lunch group with the female teachers at my school
Zumba class
Dreaming in Japanese
Inexpensive eating out
100yen stores
Random acts of kindness, like the donut man slipping a third donut into my bag even though I only ordered two
Eating most meals with chopsticks
Chocolate koala cookies
Lots of free time with my hubby
My students
Weekly Japanese classes
Tokyo Disney and Disney Sea
Sacred time to discover more about myself and my relationship with my husband
Heated toilet seats
The perfect green of the rice field
Time to read fun books that I actually enjoy reading (like not textbooks!)
Running by the river or through the rice fields
Miso soup, curry, hayashi stew, Japanese rice

Things I will definitely NOT miss about Japan:

People slurping their noodles and chewing with their mouths open
People talking about me right in front of me like I can't understand
The lack of deodorant
Not being informed of important work meetings, events, etc.
Ridiculously expensive fruits and veggies
Paper-thin walls and doors. Zero insulation.
Cigarette butts that blow onto our back porch
Having my shower in the kitchen
The lack of central cooling/heating. Kerosene heaters...stinky.
How hard it is to make close friends
Stares and ignorant questions
The time difference between Japan and America
People driving through our neighborhood with megaphones, campaigning or calling for trash
Imitation American foods like pizza
Automatic sliding doors that don't open until my nose is practically smashed against the glass
The bus
Compliments about my mad chopstick skills
Bad internet connection
Japanese cheese

Things I'm most looking forward to in America

My sweet family...only a day's drive and about $100 away
Costa Vida...and really, any Mexican food
The next stage in life
Being a student again...I know, call me crazy
Running a half marathon
A normal-sized oven
A normal-sized bed
A normal-sized refrigerator
A get the idea
Conversations that I understand
Grocery store labels that I can read
Familiar recipe ingredients and measuring devices
DI and Savers and clothes swaps with my Sistah
Easily-available and not-so-overpriced feminine hygiene products
American music
Movie theaters
Familiar cleaning products
Disneyland and California Adventures with the fam bam
Libraries stocked full of ENGLISH books
Baby lotion
Having a car
Black beans
Starting over. Making new friends. Learning a new town. Fresh perspectives on life.
Hearing and seeing Spanish more often

The Best Last Day of Summer Ever!

Well we have almost survived the first term of school. This week is my (Emily's) last week of class and then we are off to...DISNEYLAND with the fam bam!!! Can't wait! But I'm getting ahead of myself.

This week we were completely spoiled (again) by our Portland fam. My aunt the temptress convinced me that "a little R&R is really healthy sometimes" [translated directly as "Forget about your paper due in two days and come party with us!"]. And oh man, we are glad we listened to that little temptation :) We had an amazing day playing with them and enjoying the sunshine...and I got an A on my paper.

This is James. Isn't he beautiful? I found myself falling for him all over again.

On the right is my cousin. That girl could go FORever. She amazed us all.

Yep, that's me...pretty much drowning on the kneeboard. It happened multiple times. 

Me and the cousins. We tubed and screamed for probably an hour straight. At one point when I'm quite convinced that my beloved uncle was trying to kill us, my cousin screamed "This is the best last day of summer EVER!!!" I totally had to agree. 

James probably won't approve of me posting this picture, but I just thought it was so funny. So I was working on homework yesterday and James, after doing everything he possible could - the dishes, fixing the car, making lunch, etc. - finally slowed down a bit and went into our office. This is how I found him a little later. Playing Settlers of himself. He won, of course. This guy cracks me up. Gotta love him.

So, exciting news - James got a job this week! It is a substitute position, so it's not permanent or full-time, but it's a great start. He will be working with students with disabilities and helping them succeed in the classroom. Should be a great experience. Thanks for all the prayers you have sent in our direction! Love to all our family and friends!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Happy Birthday to the Girl of My Dreams!

Well, although today is Emily's birthday, she still couldn't get out of the last day of her mediation clinic thing. Another week has flown by and Emily is still alive. :) The last post was no understatement. She is always studying textbooks and writing papers. This past week she got her first paper back and got an A-... (Not bad), so it looks like all the time she is putting in is paying off. 

Last night Aunt Tricia, Uncle Jeff, and their kiddos plus cousin Brady stopped in Eugene on their way home from a week at Lake Shasta. It was fun to visit with them and celebrate their daughter's birthday (happy birthday again Courtney!!!) and Emily's birthday. I just want to state again how nice it is to live on the same island as our family.

So for our 2 year wedding anniversary, we did end up going to the coast to a little town called Florence. It was beautiful weather and just nice to be by the coast again.

They had little information displays talking about the history of different places in this town that were pretty interesting. The building in the background is called Mo's. We went to dinner there and it was awesome!

Somehow we only captured this one picture of our appetizer. It was some kind of shrimp and artichoke dip with garlic bread. I think after we tasted it and got our main dishes, we were 1. too hungry and 2. mesmerized by the delicious looking food to take more pictures. I had some fish and chips and Emily had their famous clam chowder in a bread bowl. It was super good and we would recommend the place to anyone in the area.  

After walking around Florence and eating dinner, we headed to the beach. I'm not sure what the name of this place was, but the view was spectacular. 

We had to hike up this hill and once we reached the top, this was our view. Reminds me of the beached in Northern California.

On the other side of the hill, it was a completely different beautiful view of forests like you can see there in the background.

Overall, we were very happy with the beach. The sand felt so nice. We did dip our feet in the water and it was a little too cold for my taste, but it was still nice. In between the busy-ness of studying, I'm sure we'll be making a few trips out to the coast.

These are the birthday girls, Courtney and Emily. We went out to Red Robin and had a blast.
So despite Emily being busy with school stuff, we did find time to have fun on the coast and go out to eat with family. We really are just loving life here at the moment... We'll see how that changes once I start to work. :) I hope everyone else has a great week and that you will get a chance to celebrate Emily's birthday in your own way. Much love!